The labyrinthine array of current underground sound system music can, in the modern musical climate, become something of an overwhelming trail of progression, in which the unrelenting dirge of information coursing from the internet can seem to lack a strong musical compass or anchor; stagnation through sheer volume.
Dubstep, arguably the last real safeguard of the UK scene, was nurtured and developed in the home studios, record shops and small scale clubs of South London in the early-to-mid noughties. With dubplate culture at it’s very core, dubstep was the world’s last ‘physical’ genre, yet also the first to truly benefit from social media’s capacity for sharing information, rumour and opinion – ultimately seeing the public face of the genre morph into a testosterone-fuelled love in between overly-compressed snare hits and increasingly ridiculous mid-range melody drops. On ‘fabriclive 64’, Steve Bishop, or the London dj more commonly known as Oneman, puts forward a strong case for being the next brick in the foundations of low end dance music, tying its various strands into one consistent whole that both covers the past decade or so of development, whilst pushing the way forward.
‘fabriclive 64’ kicks off with Mark Pritchard’s untitled ambient opener, before Bishop warms things up nicely with Fis-T’s 502-released anthem ‘Night Hunter’ segueing straight into much-overlooked Sheffield producer Grievous Angel’s ‘Move Down Low’ VIP, before things take a deeper turn as SBTRKT’s synth-led ‘2020’ sets things up for Dem 2’s classic ’97 remix of ‘Club Lonely’.
As ever, the mixing style is considered, swift and tight, with a minimal reliance on effects, as evidenced in a sequence of tracks from Mosca, Lando Kal, Doubleheart and Pearson Sound, not to mention the inclusion of Mike Q’s superb rework of MAW’s ‘The Ha Song’, or the one minute tease of Bok Bok & Tom Trago’s recent ‘Vector’. Always one willing to take risks on the dancefloor, the switch from Joy O’s ‘The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow’ into Croydon dubstep man Distance’s rolling, brittle ‘Feel Me’ is one that clamours for an instant pull-up situation, a trick repeated with dropping, seemingly out of nowhere, Orbison’s modern classic ‘Ellipsis’.
‘Fabriclive 64’s final triplet of tracks outlay three periods of development in the UK scene, as young producer Thefft’s gorgeously edited ‘Switch’ rolls into Youngstar’s unstoppable proto-grime banger ‘Pulse X Remix’, before things get smoked out with fellow South London head Burial’s perfect creeper ‘Etched Headplate’ sounding as fresh, unique and otherworldly as ever. Bookending his selection with more ambient fare harks to Oneman’s legendary Sunday night Rinse FM sessions, yet it’s the trademark smoothness of the blend that really makes this sequence work, which sees the final ten minutes of the mix roll through three seemingly adverse aspects of the UK scene in under ten coherent minutes.
From sets at South London gigs like House Party, D.O.T.S. and DMZ during dubstep’s creative peak that saw him playing classic garage alongside the darkest half-step cuts of the period, to his current standing as international selector, FWD>> regular and figurehead for the Boiler Room generation, Oneman’s journey is one that offers the scene sufficient breadth whilst never straying too far from it’s original outlay of dutty, low end rhythm and bass. Oneman is that musical compass point for the past, present and future of UK-led, underground music – it seems we’re in safe hands.
‘fabriclive 64: Oneman’ is released via Fabric Records on 16th July.