Bar 9: In Da Mix

This two-disc colossus by Bar 9—twenty-six tracks spread across two discs, one mixed and the other unmixed (featuring three exclusive, unreleased tracks)—includes enough low-end ruggedness and chest-rattling bass wobble to keep hardcore dubstep fans well-sated for a good week or two at the very least. In operation since 2006, Leicester-based Audiophreaks devotes its first CD release to dubstep in its most unadulterated and raw form. At 140 minutes, there's a lot to digest, but Bar 9 smartly mixes it up by reshaping the genre in a number of ways, with one cut nodding in dub's direction, and others ragga, electro, and more.

On the unmixed half, classic dubsteppers such as “Untitled Symphony” and “Pussyhole” crack heads with slamming snare attacks and sputtering and squawking bass throb, while the relentlessly hammering “Extort” and “Murda Sound” hit even harder. Stately piano playing lends “Midnight” neo-classical flavour in those moments when the tune's not throwing down with a slamming pulse. With its uptempo, fleet-footed shuffling rhythms, “Distant Roots” brings a rush of energy to the disc, as does the rollicking soul-stepper “One,” a strategy “Submerged” revisits when it works Deepchord-styled digi-dub into its charging flow.

The mix offers a twenty-six-track tour through a grime-coated netherworld, with contributions from Hektagon, Zen Militia, Spherix, Rusko, Cluekid, Nero, Scuba, Kromestar, and, of course, Bar 9 surfacing along the way. Compared to disc one, the rest-stops are shorter during the second half but the trip's as scenic, with the hot-wired synthesizer broil of “Swagger,” twilight dub skank of “Budwise,” percussive onslaught of “Killed It Dead,” and dystopic trippiness of “Reflector” four of many standouts. Traces of deep house even seep into the galloping beat snap and elastic bass charge of “Wasting Time,” while Kromestar's “Late” clanks and heaves with aromatic purpose. Reso gives Nero's already-lethal “Bad Trip” a re-rub, and there's no shortage of police sirens, voice samples, rootsy rhythms, and acid attacks elsewhere. Unlike Hyperdub's recent output (singles by Kode 9, Joker, 2000F & JKamata, LD, and Cooly G), In Da Mix isn't intent on advancing the genre in any radical or visionary manner, but as an expansive portrait of dubstep in its classic form, Audiophreaks' barnstorming set is certainly solid.

May 2009