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Various – Multiverse 2004-2009 review

An expansive and highly influential musical anthology of UK bass music from Bristol based studio and production company, Multiverse Music, as they explore the sonic spectrum between 2004-9 and bring us this comprehensive compilation on the Tectonic imprint. Steeped in dubstep’s past, present and future, Multiverse has given rise to some of the scene’s biggest names (think Bristol bods Joker, Pinch, Guido, Gemmy, Ginz et al) as well as acting as the parent company to a number of key labels in the dubstep-cum-grime-cum-experimental techno scene, including Kapsize, Tectonic, Ear Wax, Caravan and Sub Text.

The compilation kicks off with bold and sagacious intent, flitting from Vex’d’s 2004 classic, the dark, gritty, industrial-sounding “Lion”, and referencing the sounds of Bristol’s early and flourishing dubstep scene, with tracks from way back in 2005 – take Skream & Loefah’s “28 Grams” and Pinch & P Dutty’s debut release on Tectonic “War Dub”, for example. SNO’s siren-touting “Disturbance” provides some respite, with gorgeously rounded beats and jungle flavours, before Skream’s 2006 synth-led, rolling release, “Bahl Fwd” tunes in to a more tripped out, contemplative vibe. Joker gets a good look in with his early grime-y, instrumental piece, “Stuck In The System” (2007), his collab with Ginz, the gloriously aubergine soaked sounds of ubiquitous 2009 Kapsize anthem, “Purple City” and finally “Psychedelic Runway”, which crops up towards the end.

Keeping things varied, The Body Snatchers add in the Benga-style laddish humour with “Big Ass, Mini Skirt”, before a sharp change as an upbeat vocal-led cut from ’09, Pinch’s “Get Up” featuring Yolanda gets the remix treatment from RSD. Then we have the bounce of Baobinga & ID’s “Tongue Riddim”, via Vex’d’s pared down “Pop Pop”, Loefah’s “System” and October’s tropical techno/dubstep crossover “Three Drops” – a stunning track. The flavours keep a-changing, as we approach the end of the album, finishing up with the murmuring, subterranean growling of Emptyset’s “Demiean”. Once again showing the immense versatility of the preconceived, oft wrongly pigeon holed ‘dubstep’ genre, the Multiverse 2004-2009 compilation is one to hold and to cherish for years to come.

Review: Belinda Rowse