Various – ‘116 & Rising’ (Hessle Audio)

The past two years has seen dubstep stand up, shake off its well worn cape of wobble and expose what lies beneath. And, it turns out there’s been a whole host of electronic sub-genres and sounds getting cosy underneath. Initially these sounds exchanged numbers and nervously went on dates before letting it all hang out and having it offtep in the most carefree and rampant of fashions. Now that the super injunction has been lifted, it seems safe to name those involved – garage, 2 -s, house, grime, techno and broken beat are just some of the sonics to have been caught with their creative trousers down and legs open.

Hessle Audio has been one of the key catalysts in introducing these different strands of electronic rhythm and sound to each other, then greasing the wheels of their aural unions. Along with Kode9’s oft cited Hyperdub, Glasgow’s Numbers, Bok Bok’s Night Slugs and Scuba seminal Hot Flush label, the imprint has been one of the leaders in the ever expanding pack of players riding the ebb and flow of bass which has emanated from the UK over the last 4 years.

‘116 & Rising’ is Hessle’s first label compilation and, much like Hot Flush’s ‘Back and 4th’ (which was let loose earlier in the year), it comprises two chapters – one highlighting Hessle’s finer moments and the other showcasing where they’re heading. The history lesson demonstrates how the impossibly youthful trio steering Hessle Audio – Ben UFO, Pearson Sound/Ramadanman and Pangaea – have proved to have had musical taste buds beyond their years. Big tunes like Martyn’s galvanising remix of TRG’s ‘Broken Heart’, Ramadanman’s ‘Don’t Change For Me’ and Pangaea’s ‘Why’ are all indicators of why the label has been and still is held in such high esteem.

The new material pushes the envelope no less – rather it takes the envelope and shoves it over the end of a cliff – while the 12 tunes on display show just how broad the collective Hessle palette can be. Elgato’s ‘Musci (Body Mix) begins proceedings with an air of deeply, sexed up ambience, which, as an opening statement is as left as you like. But the ambience is just one flavour from the digital buffet of beeps and ticks which the Hessle players rub their faces in. D1’s Subzero is a brutal, grime dub rhythm full of harsh stabs – James Blake’s ‘Give A Man A Rod (2nd Version)’ is a deeply disorientating and soulful slice of electronica dredged up from the bottom of the sea by cowbells. Addison Groove gets his slow-paced juke on with ‘Fuk Tha 101’ which arrives strapped up in shifty, yet clinical percussion. Randomer, perhaps the most enigmatic producer out of all the names on here, offers the most suprising moment with the incendiary and tightly wound ‘Brunk’. Other moments from Pearson Sound, Untold and the Peverelist all add up to a compilation which, despite intially sounding disparate, slots together as a coherent whole and points to an ever brightening future for Hessle. On this evidence, their position as a beacon of light illuminating the most exciting aspects of electronic underground dance music shows no sign of abating. If you want to know where the most exciting electronics are coming from at this stage in 2011, then Hessle Audio should be your go-to destination.

Jim Ottewill

‘116 & Rising’ is out now on Hessle Audio.

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