It's been a pretty prolific year for Modeslektor's 50Weapons stable since its last label survey, 50Weapons Of Choice #10-19, dropped back in July 2011. Amidst a flurry of new roster signings that include Dark Sky, Marcel Dettmann, and Shed, the Berlin bass bastion has added an incredible six stylistically divergent albums to its repertoire. Now, the imprint is surveying its landscape once again with 50Weapons Of Choice #20-29, another testament to its unabated ascent over the past 12 months.
The comp begins where its predecessor left off, with a track off Dark Sky's Radius EP, the label's first single following 50Weapons Of Choice #10-19. "Neon" is a bold and immediate step into rumbling bass, the song's garage-redolent vocals gasping between the undulating programming and scopey synth work. This seamlessly slips into Phon.o's "Abbey Road," which uses the same identikit set of tropes—and yet somehow falls short of "Neon"'s impact.
Since taking his place on the 50Weapons roster, Berlin veteran Phon.o's engagement with UK bass strata has been a little hit and miss. An impressive split debut with Anstam, "il62," turned his dub-techno craft into punchy, brooding dubstep that has since dissolved into variations of a minimal Burial blueprint—as it does on his second offering here, "Sad Happiness," which comes towards the comp's close. Woodblocks gently clatter against horns and poignant strings pleasantly enough, but the overall effect is drab and a little lackluster in comparison.
Conversely, Cosmin TRG's transition from his dubstep-leaning past has bred a pretty potent brand of swinging house and techno, and a mounting number of widely touted releases on both 50Weapons and Rush Hour. Here, he contributes "De Dans," a particularly robust cross-pollination, which takes center stage in 50Weapons Of Choice #20-29's Berlin basement section, a swath of the LP that begins with Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka's "Jumanji" (the comp's sole unreleased work, and possibly the boys' toughest Berlin-brewed effort to date) and ends with Dettmann's strung-out "Deluge."
Anstam (a.k.a. German visual artist Lars Stöwe) is 50Weapons' other niche-less anomaly, although the project's electronic experiments are far less floor oriented. Representing the volatile link between old Warp and modern-savvy techno, plugged with all the foreboding parts of the UK's darkside (jungle, dubstep, and grime tints included), Anstam's re-emergence on 50Weapons has continued to impress with more indefinable and rhythmically complex compounds. Here, selections from Stöwe's first and latest EPs for 50Weapons have made the cut; Dispel Dances teaser "Carmichael" is a sinewy creep through horror film atmospheres and warbling weirdness, while "Whisky" is more of an LSD jaunt through a garish carnival nightmare.
Elsewhere, Addison Groove's "Locked Groove"—a tune with no shortage of hypnotic potency despite clocking in at a mere 71 seconds—provides a blissful and much-needed reprieve after Dettmann's neurotic workout. The comp concludes with the excellent "RQ-170" from Shed, a track best described as industrialized D&B through an ambient drone filter, and perfect summation of the label's dedication to inventive genre perversions. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that 50Weapons Of Choice #20-29 is coming in around the midway point of the imprint's supposed 50-release curtain call; if the comp is to be treated as a plumb line for the label's next chapter, we may have to get used to expecting the unexpected.