It took a while for Fabric to embrace dubstep within their mix series, but one can’t fault their strike rate since Martyn’s Fabric50 disc. The latest contributor is Pinch, aka Rob Ellis and boss of the excellent Tectonic label. It’s therefore not much of a surprise that the stable of artists who have recorded for and with him are heavily featured here. There’s no need for accusations of nepotism here, though, because Pinch has worked with nearly everybody on the UK dubstep scene so there’s no sense of exclusion.
The mix is designed to be a cyclical affair, with the last note of the final track leading straight back into the disc’s opening bar (a digital rip is therefore recommended by Pinch, rather than waiting for a CD player’s laser to move from outside in which could disrupt the whole experience). With that in mind, the ebb and flow of the mix makes a lot more sense; rather than starting quietly and building up like some DJs, or maintaining a punishing beat for 70+ minutes as others are wont to do, Pinch builds up and then dials it back before pushing on again.
The result is a mix CD which highlights some less frantic moments among the dancefloor shredders; in particular, Roly Porter’s “Hessra” provides a minute of beautiful calm. There is also the team up between Pinch and Quest, “In Dreams” from an as-yet-unreleased project which is enticingly luxuriant and with added vibraphone to boot. There’s also quite a lot of dub amongst the dubstep; at times, particularly earlier in the mix, Pinch is happy to let a rhythm track play with minimal interference. Crank up the volume, however, and you’re likely to be bouncing off the walls, the bass vibrating the room and the rhythm providing that discombobulating effect.
The result is an album that succeeds in bringing a little of the dark bassy throb of the dubstep dancefloor to the living room whilst allowing for a few moments of calm and contemplation in the midst of it all. Pinch doesn’t try to make any kind of definite statement on dubstep and throws in the odd curveball at time (balancing up Roly Porter’s lush pause is Addison Groove’s syn-drum clatter “This Is It”). But this is not the sort of disc that gives itself to over-analysis concerning genre politics; it’s a near-flawless mix of thrillingly new tracks that kicks Fabric’s year off to a fine start.