With the curation of the second Keysound Allstars 12", label heads Dusk and Blackdown continue to define the dark, grime-tinged sound of Keysound Recordings in 2013. Just as with previous label compilations, the latest collects four artists who are each tying up the loose ends of dubstep, grime, and UK funky to create music that is brooding, spacious, rhythmically propulsive, and, more than anything, distinctly British.
Londoner Etch kicks off the release with "Scattah," a production built on dub-tinged sounds pillaged from classic '90s jungle. It combines fractured, pitched snare rolls and outbursts of hollowed-out bass to make for a tune that brings to mind the more hyperactive ends of classic UK dubstep—albeit at a bpm closer to 130. This vibe continues with "Homage" by Walton, who also appeared on the first edition of Allstars. The Mancunian opens his track with a rough, shuffling beat and grainy female vocals, giving the whole thing an air of dilapidated garage. But the dense, modulated bassline and crackling samples that come to dominate the core of "Homage" are pure dubstep classicism.
Things take a turn towards grime on the flip with Visionist's moody and spacious "From a Place." Constructed out of dark strings, delay-drenched claps, and brilliantly fragmented snippets of a grime vocal, the track is certainly a highlight, but it's Glasgow producer Fresh Paul who delivers the strongest contribution. The exceptionally lively "Sunblazed" is a proper mini-epic made of colorfully energetic synthlines that evoke the Ruff Sqwad crew at its most excitable.
Keysound Allstars Vol. 2 is another worthy addition into the label's continuum. As with the majority of tunes to come from the outpost in recent months, these four productions do an excellent job of exhibiting the constant forward motion of UK electronic music while sounding steeped in the influence of the scene's history. And it's this mix of compelling experimentation and dedication to a deep-rooted legacy that keeps Keysound continually relevant.