Various Artists Elevator Music: Vol. 1 Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Volume one of what should be an impressive series of bass-centric selections.

Chris Power 2010

It sounds rather like a term your exasperated granddad might use in lieu of anything more specific, but ‘bass music’ is, for now, the best catch-all we have to describe the fertile dancefloor cross-pollination taking place between dubstep, house and techno. Alternately – and in some cases all at once – these allied producers reference garage, funky house, grime and numerous points between, chewing up the past in order, so artist and audience hope, to spit out the future. As with any genre, or confection of genres, the productions involved range from game-changing to the eminently forgettable.

The first volume of Fabric’s impressive new mix series dedicated to this bass-heavy territory tends almost exclusively towards the former, delivering a raft of previously unreleased, unmixed tracks, that surveys some of the more diverting routes modern dance music is taking to reach hips and feet. Happily, those routes frequently go via the head, too. That’s certainly true of London’s Untold: the plunging, chrome-plated and laser-streaked gurgle of his Bad Girls sounds as singular as the string of audacious tracks he released last year. And with his Gold Bricks, I See You, Mosca also delivers a piece of music so fresh it’s still bleeding: euphoric in part, and scattered with cut-up vocals and digital horns, it’s also infused with the exquisite melancholy that characterises so many garage tracks.    

Elsewhere Bristol’s Julio Bashmore, one of the most promising among the younger members of this amorphous group of producers, justifies the hype with The Moth, a scintillating blend of house-tempo 2-step and airy Cologne techno-style synths that’s underpinned by enormous bass bumps, like waves slapping the hull of some sleek ocean-going machine.

Nearly all the tracks here are for peak-time floors, so the pixellated shimmer of Om Unit’s Encoded, which nevertheless exudes a skewed funk from its mid-tempo crawl, comes as a welcome shift of emphasis. That said, the diversity on display throughout Elevator Music, from the pattering techno of Vista’s Elixir to the space-station jazz of Martyn’s Friedrichstrasse, is very much its own reward. In fact the only plausible complaint that could be levelled at it is that certain prime movers and promising newcomers – Joy Orbison, Scuba, Mount Kimbie – aren’t represented, but then there’s always volume two, right?

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