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V/A: Tempa All-Stars Vol. 7 (Tempa)

I first discovered Tempa when dubstep had started to make its first set of underground waves in the US in the early-mid 00s. While dubstep’s reputation has become much maligned in the years since, Tempa has remained fairly consistent to my ears in presenting high quality bass music that rarely resorts to the machine gun snarl of American dubstep, and instead seems more interested in plumbing the depths of low end and new permutations of dub and beat-making.

Wen’s “Push Back” to me is a good signifier of Tempa’s evolution, with his more melodic but no less spacious intstrumental fusion of dub, hip-hop, and grime.

Alex Coulton’s reverberated bongos and synth zaps feel more familiar and staid, but a handsome four-to-the-floor, muted kick helps propel it in the right direction for dancefloors. I prefer it in its closing moment where the beat falls away almost completely, and it’s all just synths, hiss, and effects. Innasound hardly misses a beat with the subsequent “Step Fourth,” though I find it to be a bit more ordinary. Batu’s “Ghosted” ups the ante considerably, though, with a more rousing drum arrangement, a sharp contrast of bright rims and timbales with bulbous bass and distorted piano. AxH brings his signature deep, crisp bite to “Nano,” falling squarely in the reverberated, sinister category of what I’d consider proper UK dubstep with a keen eye on quality control, as usual, working well as a combo with Perverse’s “Jacobin” as a dubby, deep finish to the set.

While there aren’t many surprises here (Wen and Batu are the standouts for me), it’s yet another reminder of why Tempa continues to have the solid reputation it does as a quality survey of what’s what in UK bass music.

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