Album Review: Fabric 50 - Various mixed by Martyn

Somehow both 2008 and 2009 seem to have been proclaimed "The Year of Dubstep"... Something that quite frankly bores BlackPlastic to tears because, well... It's just slowed down UK Garage really, isn't it? And you can try and big it up to be something more than that but as 'new genres' go it's treading what is already pretty well trodden ground. So Fabric 50, compiled and mixed by Martyn, is yet another bloody dubstep compilation.

Yet, actually, it's pretty darn good. And BlackPlastic can't really agree that this is any more 'dubstep' than it is 'nu skool breaks'. Or any other breaks genre really because in all honesty this shares more with the bass heavy breaks sound of early Stanton Warriors than any dubstep we ever heard.

Semantics aside Fabric 50 may be good, but it actually makes a bad first impression. Hudson Mohawke's opener 'Joy Fantastic' does a serviceable impression of Stankonia-era Outkast - it is fine but hardly as good as the real thing. And whilst Nubian Mindz's 'Bossa Boogie' is actually an enjoyably chunky take on breakbeat things begin to head downhill from there. Altered Native's 'Rass Out' is instantly forgettable and Zomby has two tracks early on in the album that utterly fail to justify the hype heaped upon him.

But things quickly turn around on DJBone's 'We Control The Beat'. It's an absolutely lush, warm slice of sound the introduces a house feel to Martyn's set that is more or less kept through to the end from that point on. Before you know it you're dizzy, staring at the floor to Martyn's dubby-ska mix of Detachments' 'Circles' and Joy Orbison's soulful and snappy 'Brkln Clln' (Broklyn Calling?).

And BlackPlastic can't help but feel that this slowed down garage album specifically just might be worth getting excited about. The twee pitched up samples of Burial come off like Sweet Female Attitude on PMT. But in comparison whilst Joy Orbison and Martyn may not justify a whole new genre tag (it's still just soulful breakbeat) they definitely worth listening to. Roska's mix of Martyn's 'These Words' is thick and paranoid and delicious and, unsurprisingly, it is Martyn's own productions that really shine in this mix - 'Friedrichstrasse' being another prime example.

Closing on Jan Driver's relative hard 'Rat Alert' followed by the funky and filtered 'Trilingual Dance Sexperience' by Dorian Concept, Fabric 50 is a confusing mix to the end. It's eclectic and confused and it starts badly, yet there it also clearly demonstrates why Martyn is one to watch.

BP x

Fabric 50 is out now, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].