Various Artists ‘Studio Rockers @ The Controls Level 2’

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Title: @ The Controls Level 2
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If there’s a current album that best exemplifies how sounds that loosely fall under the term ‘bass’ offer a potentially awkward juxtaposition between snappy, broken beat dirt and 4AM-at-a-rave beauty, but somehow manage to deliver that meld coherently, then this second instalment in the Studio Rockers series is it. Veering from neo-jungle to the dubby post-whatever tones, it’s packed with tracks that prove the rather spuriously labelled, vastly expansive canon is still capable of exploring some interesting avenues, albeit whilst sticking safely within the far reaching blueprint.

Influences ranging from techno (in a distinctly big beat vein) to liquid drum ‘n’ bass are evident,  and rather reassuringly for the scenes in question there’s a fair amount of young blood presented across the 15 tracks, albeit we open with the Squarepusher-esque (and, apparently, a favourite of Tom Middleton), EAN, by label owners The Moody Boyz. Quickly though we’re faced with less experienced innovation, such as the Arabesque 160-refix of Nona from Nuphio, where breaks on the half beat marry old school progressive ambience, as read through the eyes of a rising Midlander.

Elsewhere and tempos are vastly different to those flutterers. Mungenden from Marcel Lune is a skudgy, hop-hop and ZX Spectrum inflected number that recalls Joy Orbison, and in a similar-ish vein, EVM 128 (another established face in this crowd) unleashes a vocal garage anthem that sways between sublime and rude with his Naked Truth, meanwhile, Ollie Realness realises a very Rinse FM-model of four fours with the sub-ruining, low-end heavy roller Charm. To cut what could be a long story short then, At The Controls Vol. 2 is poof of an almost unparalleled level of variety offered by this lazily titled ‘scene’ when compared with pretty much every other style of dance music- even going so far as to call off at tribal dream-pop along the way (Lewis Badwan’s Sea of Trees). Putting it another way, although stopping short of mind blowing, this is evidence that the only real fitting term for what is often categorised as ‘bass’ would be ‘good electronic music’. Providing, of course, whatever the case in point is matches what’s here for quality.


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