Various Artists

Dark Matter: Multiverse, 2004-2009

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This two-CD compilation documents five years in the life of dubstep/electronica label Multiverse, including tracks by well-known (within the context of that scene) artists like Skream, Loefah, Pinch, and Emptyset alongside lower-profile acts. The majority of the tracks are slow, creeping instrumentals constructed from one or two basic sounds, a huge drum loop, and possibly a sample ("Disturbance," for example, uses the voice of a police dispatcher seeking backup at a crime scene). Skream's "Bahl Fwd" gives prominent placement to hand percussion, atop a throbbing digital bassline that's really more of a series of drones. On the other hand, Body Snatchers' "Big Ass, Mini Skirt" is a hedonistic club track with a funky beat and a one-finger synth line, befitting its title. Faster and more aggressive than a lot of the rest of the music here, it seems designed for dancing, not sitting sullenly in the corner of a club while it roars around you. October's "Euro Dance Hit" is anything but; it oozes and squelches like primitive industrial, the drum machine pattern a set of hisses and clicks Throbbing Gristle or Suicide might have employed. Their other contribution to the set, "Three Drops," is much more like something one might hear on one of the Kompakt label's annual Total compilations. Nearly everything on Dark Matter is at least worth a cursory listen, and some of it may cause skeptics to reconsider the value of dubstep as a genre.

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