140BPM bass music is building momentum all over the map. The fever has spread far beyond dubstep’s UK origins. Today, there’s an insurgence of young producers infatuated by deep dubstep — and they’re not to be overlooked. In such a stimulated creative climate, labels like Versed Records are especially important. Headed by southern USA DJs, producers, and community curators Organik (Atlanta) and Unicorn Fukr (New Orleans), Versed Records spotlights artists rising onto the stateside radar for the insatiable international community. The collective’s third release, the Gold compilation, plays out in a succession of fresh talent, nodding optimistically to the promise of a global deep dubstep scene.
Versed 003, the Gold compilation, highlights seventeen unique musicians over twelve impressive tracks The artists featured on the release are predominantly American — many residing in Atlanta and the surrounding area of the southeastern United States, which is often overshadowed by larger cities boasting louder scenes. Still, the Gold compilation proves the South-eastern region to be a diamond in the rough through tunes like DJ Variant and Nosa’s “Soul Hunter” — one of the most sinister, minimal moments on the release. JStella, another Atlanta-based artist best known for his heavier productions, offers a stand-out gem in the bouncy track “Restored,” which channels the energy and aesthetic of its dub influence. In a similar style, “Yingling” by Gwann (also out of Georgia) is distinguished by infectious wobbles best described by the vocal sample in the song itself: “This one could turn Hare Krishna into a bad boy.” Atlanta staple Clerks also makes an appearance on the compilation, as does Werd2Jah representing New Orleans, who’s grime-tinged contribution “Run Dem” (with Use of Force) easily emerges as my personal favorite tune from the release.
“Desertion Dub,” a collaboration from Colorado artists IND33P and Myxed Up, comes in as a close second. The spooky, dungeon-deep track is an unapologetic testament to the power of today’s sound systems. “Desertion Dub” is marked by the subtle adrenaline-pumping effect that can only be achieved through masterful musical texture. Rounding out my personal and highly subjective top-three is “Milawa.” The tribal tune is haunting — ritualistic in its sonic seduction. Produced by Volume A from Malta, the tune is one of a few deviations from the compilation’s stateside standard. California’s Dubamine deserves an honorable mention for “Champion.” Dubamine adds his colorful signature to the compilation with the contagious rootsy tune.
Stylistically, the Gold compilation sticks to dubstep’s deep and dark tradition. Still, there’s plenty of diverse sonic terrain to explore within the template. Durandal provides one of the heavier moments on the compilation with the bassweight bomb “Don’t Talk”; Clerks’ equally impactful remix is available as a free download. Known as the conductor-in-chief for America’s inspired production community, Sub.mission Agency artist The Widdler leaves an impressive mark on the release with the weighty sound system dinger “Buddha,” which smacks with a much more aggressive vibe than its title implies.
The Gold compilation serves as a showreel for rising and established talent, as well as a tantalizing teaser for what we can expect from Versed Records in the future. But more importantly, Versed 003 is an expertly curated compilation of DJ tracks, each engineered for its own moment in a mix. The compilation is conscious of the dance floor, and of the sprawling musical spectrum encapsulated by dubstep as a genre. It caters to the insatiable ears of DJs and fans constantly craving fresh bangers and unfamiliar tunes. The compilation is a must-listen for anybody intrigued by the future directions of the 140 sound, and especially American artists and enthusiasts looking to support the stateside scene.
By Amye Koziel