Dubstep got a fair shake in 2006’s captivating surprises (Burial), highly anticipated though somewhat uneven full-lengths (Skream’s LP), and a couple of brain-splitting, essential collections. Breakbeat Science’s Science Faction: Dubstep, mixed by New York City’s drum ‘n’ bass proponent/Offshore Recordings label head DJ Clever, makes for an impressive introduction to recent momentous dubstep works-or at least for a good profile of a couple labels’ dubstep output.
Clever’s mix pulls from the British Planet Mu and Hotlfush labels, and the plentiful servings of thick, wormy bass lines shouldn’t be missed. Actually, with a pair of studio headphones, this bass can’t be missed: The aesthetic thrill of dubstep, outside of its steadily varying nature, is in the bass. Clever’s “Secret Night of Science” monthly residency at Manhattan’s Love also makes it entirely impossible to miss the nearly harmful, chest-rattling bass drills that dubstep provides, with bloodletting decibel levels hosted by Love’s ample monitors. Although any enthusiast will argue that dubstep is most satisfying in the context of a live club setting, stereo listening is still enriching, particularly to those entries that surfaced in 2006 (and there’s even a better chance of not going deaf from the experience).
Each of Science Faction: Dubstep‘s fifteen tracks towers over the next, with blitzing offerings from Distance, Pinch (head of Bristol’s Tectonic label) and others. “Cyclops,” one of several here from Distance, dropped last summer on Planet Mu. The track allows for positively creepy ghost vocal-like effects to linger between its burping, thoroughly cylinder-shaped bass melody. If Distance’s forthcoming LP, slated for U.S. release in February, sounds anything like this or his aggressive synth-speared “Traffic,” also mixed into Clever’s comp, we’re in for a sizable pummeling. Picks like these, along with Pinch’s moody, shapeshifting entries “Qawwali” and “Punisher,” render Clever’s mix a solid dubstep primer. Even for home listening.