With all the free options floating about, you’d think a dubstep mix with a price tag would have a staggering, laser-guided introduction. But Fabriclive37 — mixed by two up-and-comers, Caspa (who’s founded three labels, including Dub Police and Storming Productions, and has recorded for Argon and Tempa) and the rookie Rusko, both of whom engage in dubstep that’s a bit predictable and usually entertaining — opens with a bit of a whimper: a Caspa track, awash in a boring synth pad straight from the drum ’n’ bass hall of records.
Like many dubstep deejays, Caspa and Rusko share an affinity for drum ’n’ bass, and this collection suffers the most when they give themselves over to it. Mixes are sometimes too little too late, and occasionally they are unapologetically dissonant. And for a mix that you have to pay for the exclusives are lacking; there are only three dubplates, with most of the tracks coming from one of Caspa’s three labels.
But they also share an affinity for American hip-hop, and it’s on the boom-bap side of things where the mix shines. Eschewing the experimental, sometimes risky maneuvers of artists like Benga or Shackleton, Fabriclive37’s best tracks are rooted in the blunted side of the sound. The perfect feel-good simplicity of Tes La Rock’s remix of Uncle Sam’s “Round the Way Girls,” the twisting low-end of Coki’s “Spongebob,” and the G’d out inertia of Matty G’s “50K VIP” are some of the best tracks the mix has to offer. They’re all also in the same vein of composition: more about hoodies and bong hits than soundscapes or sexy club anthems.
The mix contains about a half dozen original tracks from each deejay, as well. Rusko sounds a bit hungrier and more exacting than Caspa, though both engage in mostly paint-by-numbers dubstep. The production seems geared toward making sure the tracks appear in mixes, and at their worst moments, they dig their heels too deep in the expectations of the genre. Yet the talent lies more in the big picture.
Fabriclive 37 doesn’t feature any brilliant maneuvers or blends. It’s a mostly savory display of one thing dubstep does well: serve as fun and sometimes mindless music for the dancehall, for the room full of stoners, or for the dancehall full of stoners. Still, you can probably find a tighter mix — for free — with a couple of Google swoops.