Honestly, we have all dreamt it at one point. What would happen if the best names in dubstep all collab’d on an album like some kinda multi-tentacled super group of sorts? I mean your dad’s classic rock bands did it, so why not our scene too. For Volume 1 we find the one of the original dons of percussion Commodo, Bristolian grime and dubmeister Kahn, and the Burial of Turkey creating a monumental LP within our little outernational scene. While paced more like a collection of singles, the LP ranks conceptually with the great LPs of 140; Burial’s self-titled, Kode9 and Spaceape’s (RIP) “Memories of the Future”, Pev’s unrivaled classic Jarvik Mindstate, and others. Whether or not Volume 1 will usher a Volume 2 remains to be seen, but consider that the cryptically titled Volume 1 implies that there will be more, but whether it will feature Kahn, Gantz and Commodo at the helm or be some sort of rotating trio is pure conjecture at this point.
“AMK” leads off Volume 1 with Turkish rare grooves found in some bazaar by Gantz, typical of his roughly hewn production style. Commodo and Kahn supply the razor-like perc work. Gantz continues to weave his dusty 45s in between the rhythmic framework for extra melodic color. Nearing the end, Gantz takes over dubbing the hip-hop stylings with his more psychedelic tendencies, running the percs through a spring reverb tank, dashing in more left-field samples and deconstructing the beat for those a little too high on Interzone’s black meat. The delicate funeral march of “So Familia” beckons us to escape the sadistic markets of Interzone. The introspective melody descends like the early morning sun rising across the roofs of the entire city. The methane green light of the street lamps burning the hair off your skin like the tape hiss that coats the fragile melodic figure. The translucent skin of junkies glows twilight in the predawn as they skitter with spider-like exactness in their zombie shuffling to the dark corners of walls. “Your voice is so familia like inna dream I cannot place” utters one of the junkies. There is an odd poetry in her glass voice. You reach out for the junk she hands you as “So Familia” ends how it began in the closed loop of addiction.
“Kibosh” sounds like cast away beat that Commodo and Gantz collab’d on for MF Doom, it’s got this lurching, [Adult Swim] bump quality to it that makes it an instantly catchy ear virus. Gantz again provides the collage of old Turkish music reconfigured and decontextualized, VHS-ripped b-movie chatter and other oddball sonic ephemera. Meanwhile, ‘Modo and Kahn go to work on the MPC building a shuffling four on the floor indebted riddim thats equal parts hip-hop and bass music with it’s ’90s era snare hits and it’s grinding sub weight. The back half of the LP finds each producer taking turns constructing the overall riddims with little inputs and characteristic flourishes from the others for a perhaps more coherent aesthetic vision, however they lack the exciting cross-pollinations of “Kibosh” or “AMK”. Commodo takes over the reins for the back half of Volume 1 with “Crystal Collect” thats sounds almost like “Hyperreal” in percussive structure, but it bursts forth with Kahn’s always-ready “YES IYAH” sample and Gantz’s penchant for lazer gunfire. It’s anchored with Young Echo sub weight for a trodding, Bristolian under-carriage while the upper frequencies are marked with ‘Modo’s 808 wizardry. Industrial, reese-like bass morph the second half of “Crystal Collect” with their organ like tones as if Dracula himself is in the studio.
Kahn is up next with his contribution entitled “Bitchcraft”. Like “Abbatoir” before it, Kahn’s track relies on the same lumbering sub weight and quicksilver snare cracks and hats to keep things properly grimy, but Gantz again lifts some choice Turkish string samples from his collection of (probably) classic 45s and grafts them onto “Bitchcraft” to keep things soaring and, dare I say, epic. Outta the lot though, “Bitchcraft” seems like a retread for Kahn by his using of the same rhythmic foundation of both “Over Deh So” and “Abbatoir” for his contribution to Volume 1. While it still works in context with collaboration with Gantz and Commodo, its just not a strong as it could have been. Volume 1 ends with the obvious Gantz track “Unmistakable”. Typical of his fractured and ruff other productions, Gantz’s contribution skips with that Mala gallop as spiders and other insectoid creatures scuttle between the limping percussion. Down below the sub pulses with a Sign of the Dub like minimalism. Bleeting tones whir like machine elves as Gantz grafts some hip-hop voice repeating “unmistakable”. Things get drag down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit-hole until ‘Modo steps in and unleashes some furious trap hi-hat gun fire and Gantz once supplies that Turkish hash for another trippy Interzone beat to close out Volume 1.
To close, the LP’s lack of proper pacing, with its album’s floor-minded ideology breezes by without much room from quiet home listening and introspection. The missing Kahn-isms (his Bandulu influence or a proper Gorgon Sound-eqsue steppa) when compared to Commodo’s more pronounced hip-hip influenced percussive stylings and the ruff-edged sampledelics of Gantz would have rounded out the LP more fully. Additionally, the less aesthetically exciting back half on the LP detract from Volume 1 as a whole. That being said, conceptually the LP marks a much need shot in the arm for our scene, as many of the LPs that have came forth after the classics have been hit or miss, either too reliant on floor-filler or getting bogged down in the ambience. With Volume 1 the LP lacks the introspective mediation to break up the thundering bass (amongst other complaints), but the LP seems poised to become a modern-day classic given the stature of its super-group of producers at the helm.