Various – ‘Tectonic Plates Volume 3’ (Tectonic Recordings)

Having set up his Tectonic imprint back in 2005, Pinch has overseen a continuous stream of some of the most atmospheric and progressive music to emerge from the flourishing Bristol scene, helping to shape things on a local level by bringing through fresh talent while also having a big say in dubstep and UK bass music as a whole. The highly acclaimed ‘Tectonic Plates’ series now returns for its third instalment, collecting a selection of exclusive tracks from established label artists, like-minded producers and yet more exciting breakthrough acts.

The brooding landscape of ‘The Talisman’ by Kryptic Minds lays down a marker for the substance, style and quality of what’s to follow, its haunting arrangement hanging in the air as the deepest of subs roll powerfully through. ‘Universal’ by Tunnidge adopts a similar intensity but creates a more tribal feeling with interwoven drum patterns that keep the track on a nervous edge without ever jumping out at you.

As you might expect, Addison Groove hits the percussion a little harder, his track ‘Phantom’ layering up a more impactful selection of programming that thumps and bounces with his trademark flow. Goth Trad’s ‘Mach’ then brings the darker side of Japan with an imposingly claustrophobic tune – unrelenting synth sequences ramping up the tension while more sublimely deep bass pressure wraps the whole thing up and pushes it forward. Roska completes the first set with an almost techy throbber in ‘480 BC’, its chiming 5 note sequence complimented with cutting snares while the rolling bassline bounds unstoppably onward.

Taking a slightly funkier line the second half is introduced with Monky’s ‘Float’ which uses loops of vocal snippets and runs of stabbing synths to create a lighter texture out of its oscillating bassline. The sharper tones of ‘Chrome’ again cut a contrast to the more cinematic tunes that preceded it, but when Ginz adds the seemingly obligatory swathes of perfectly judged low-end it retains that deep Tectonic character.

But where ‘Chrome’ is more playful, Om Unit’s ‘Preshah’ is more aggressive, manipulating squeezing distortion and industrial machinery while a no-nonsense beat keeps thumping time. ‘Outs’ from Kevin Mcphee builds menacingly into a threatening stomp, while fellow up and comer Illum Sphere gives us a more exploratory beat music flavour that scratches and hums with a warming glow. Closing the party is label favourite 2562 with ‘Rogue State’, a ten minute journey of breathy atmospherics, gently pulsing bass pressure and apprehensively tuned-out effects.

From start to finish ‘Tectonic Plates Volume 3’ is a rich wash of ominously dark backdrops and tension filled cinematics, rolling sumptuous bass with purpose and precision. Without a single drop off in quality each track strides forward and lays down its authority, all the elements pulling together effortlessly to make heavy beds of sound that completely envelop you. Buy it now and file under essential.

Robert McCorquodale

‘Tectonic Plates Volume 3’ is available now via Tectonic Recordings.