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Various – Tempa Allstars Vol 6 review

The sixth volume in the pre-eminent dubstep compilation series, Tempa Allstars, sees an excellent collection of contributions from some of the underground music scene’s pioneers and leading lights. Superlative stand out track from Skream – “Rollin’ Kicks” – begins the EP with a tapping drumbeat and a Breakage hued sonic palette (circa “Open Up”). A million miles away from Magnetic Man, melancholy instrumentals weave in and out of rounded beats and lap against hollow SFX. Next up, D&B-turned-dubstep minimalist Icicle steps up with “Anything”. Having only just released his first double-sided dubstep 12” (‘Xylophobia/Minimal Dub’) on Friction’s Shogun Audio imprint, it’s remarkable how fluidly he has made the transition, transposing key elements of his signature sound to the 140 side of town. Crisp, acerbic breaks feature heavily, perfectly calculated beats and a futuristic touch. New Yorker Drew Lustman, otherwise known as Falty DL, adds a funky touch with “Sunday”, cementing his reputation even further into the underground musical consciousness since he first emerged on to the scene three years ago. Chirpy bleeps and bellows of bass underpin the fidgeting rhythms here, with notable sunny, upbeat vibes in the synth work.

Benga’s “I Come From London” injects a dose of humour to the proceedings, with the ticking percussive lisp and robotic chant – “I come from London/Dubstep is my problem…I come from London/Benga is my problem” – driving things along into a hypnotic state of sentiency. A similar soundscape is referenced by lauded experimentalist SBTRKT in his dreamy, ethereal incantation, “Sleep In Tokyo”, up next – all broken, funked up beats, warm keys and delicately textured rhythms. Shogun Audio stalwart Alix Perez brings the EP to a close with his first published foray into the dubstep genre. His D&B production has always leaned towards the leftfield; his debut album, 1984, which was released late last year, certainly seemed to sow the seeds for the Autonomic-style experimental and downtempo work which becomes actualised here. Deep, atmospheric crackling, crisp SFX and rumbling subs roll along with dark menace. A superb finale to one of the finest releases in the Tempa Allstars series so far.

Belinda Rowse