Diplo - Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents Dubstep Volume One

by Rory McKeown Rating:6.5 Release Date:2010-11-22

The evolution of dubstep in the past five years has been remarkable, releasing itself from the shackles of esoteric underground notoriety to rapid illumination in mainstream pop. Very few could have considered the vicious, body-slamming basslines of Skream, Benga, Caspa, Flux Pavilion et al to have any importance in modern day popular music but dubstep has achieved an effortless transition into conventional chart material - even Katy B's catchy breakthrough single 'Katy on a Mission' transformed her into one of this year's hottest prospects.

Here, music innovator - and part-time Blackberry endorser - Diplo has collated a smörgåsbord of his most revered dubstep joints and remixes for Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents Dubstep Volume One - a largely hit-and-miss 16-track collection that's neither a beginner's guide nor a tantalising treasure chest for the more astute listener. Joker & Ginz's feather-light 'Re-Up' opens the album at a lazy pace, mixing a trickling, hollow drum beat with bright piano stabs and a smothered bassline. But it's the inclusion of DZ's deceiving 'Down' that brings the collection to life; the atmospheric opening is almost euphoric before its devouring bass throws the listener back and forth in frantic fashion.

Datsik's visceral remix of Diplo and Lil Jon's 'U Don't Like Me' trounces this album's curator's original, overlaying Lil Jon's sneering, confrontational lyrics onto haunting synths and an explosive drum beat. 'Sweet Shop' by producer Doctor P brings mid-90s house back to the fold thanks to its looped-piano riff and sickly vocals of "take me higher" before the doc submerges it in muddy bass and gritty beats. Caspa's remix of Rusko's popular 'Cockney Thug' is a welcome, yet expletive-laden, addition to proceedings, encapsulating dubstep's quintessentially British appeal by sampling the unmistakable dialect of everyone's favourite cockney wide boy Alan Ford in true Snatch mode. Diplo saves the best 'til last with Sub Focus' glorious remix of 'Hold On' by Rusko, a dramatic, breathtaking head banger with the fruitful tones of Amber Coffman - probably the best addition to the compilation.

And now the downsides: Major Lazer's original version of 'Hold the Line' is a heart-thumping, all-out aural assault but here Skream, who is often on top form, strips it bare, leaving it devoid of its urgency, and Santigold's solid rhymes are rendered irritating. Another bore is Zomby's 'Strange Fruit', which sounds akin to a faulty toy mobile phone, while Benga's '26 Basslines' actually features one derivative bassline, just repeated over and over, each time with a different effect.

Blow Your Head is a solid release from an artist who seems to have the world at his finger tips, but it narrowly misses out on a defining collection tag due to poor inclusions and questionable track order listing.

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