With many dubstep artists trying to out-wobble and (in more desirable cases) out-dark each other, counterparts within the scene have turned in different directions in keeping the sound fresh, original and relatively non-offensive. Enter Ramadanman, a.k.a. Pearson Sound, for the 56th instalment of the eclectic (almost randomised) FabricLive series (that which aims to offer a taste of Fabric London's Friday breaks, beats & bass night), and he has come up trumps with a mix that is sure to catch the attention of dubsteppers who are growing tired of the sound's corrupted, flatulent direction.
The first thing that one might notice about this mix is that Ramadanman could very well be spinning an almost exclusively techno set. This is a solid reflection of the sounds that have gelled to create "bass" and "UK funky", two genres that have also been described as "post-dubstep" as well as reflecting the eclectic musical influences behind the Hessle Audio label boss' own sound. The inclusion of tracks, remixes and re-edits by names such as Levon Vincent ("Late Night Jam"), Marcello Nepoletana ("Everyday Madness") and Carl Craig (re-editing Ramadanman & Appleblim's "Void23") help paint the techno-illusion in the listener's mind, however after the party-like Afro vocals and rhythms of Tiyiselani Vomaseve's "Vanghoma", the mix leaves the branch line for the main rail corridor headed straight into the heart of London's burgeoning "bass" scene (suffice it to say that Carl Craig's re-edit of Void23 completes the transition).
Listeners to FabricLive 56 could indeed aliken this mix to a trip from the West Country to Bristol, in the sense that there is no need to buckle the seatbelts (railcars are devoid of this option anyway), and it is, for the most part, a journey that does not badger those that take it into holding their attention. Instead, Ramadanman's clever, layered mixing (which is at odds with the hastened style as employed by other jocks within the scene) invites the listener to absorb, take in, the journey as it comes. Immediately following Void23, Ramadanman drops in "Project" (produced under his Pearson Sound moniker), a track that features strong old-skool and UK garage influences, as well as a swirly, advancing synth-stab - perfect for wetting the appetite of the listener for a night out (particularly if they are indeed heading to a FabricLive night, at which Hessle Audio holds a bi-monthly residency).
Subdued and almost chilled-out tracks that dominate sections within the first half of the mix do well in lulling the listener into a false sense of security (which, on the other hand, represents Ramadanman taking a huge risk in losing an audience brought up on harder, more aggressive breaks, beats & bass), however make no mistake in assuming that this is a smooth ride through strictly lounge-car listening. Look out the window as Ramadanman drops in "Stifle", a hip hop-cum-dubstep dancefloor bombshell that will doubtless suit the heavy industry or tower-block dominated scenery that can be seen as the train nears London.
Some say that a trip is more about the journey than the destination, but whether or not one subscribes to this way of thinking, it cannot be argued that a good excursion is made up of contrasts. As FabricLive 56 nears its final destination, Ramadanman changes course once more into somewhat deeper, darker territory (perhaps familiar sonic landscapes to those with a strong affinity towards early dubstep). Those who enjoyed Fabric 55: Mixed by Shackleton will surely stand to attention as Ramadanman drops Burial's "Pirates", a track whose rollicking percussion and tap-dancing-with-clogs conjure up images of a journey that perhaps went wrong, but was more positively memorable for it. The somewhat deep, dark and twisted mood retains its momentum from here on in, however contagious tribal rhythms are replaced by retro-electro stabs (as heard in GIRL Unit's "IRL", which are later superseded by the vocally aggressive, (albeit slightly minimalistic) street-corner B-boy beats of Addison Groove's "F--- The 101"
Be it a metaphor for a cross country rail-journey, a soundtrack thereto, or a journey that charts the past, present and future flavours of UK bass & beats, FabricLive 56: Mixed by Pearson Sound/Ramadanman ticks all the boxes. Jaded dubsteppers looking for something fresh, techno fans looking for further sources of excitement and electronic music fans in general will want to hop onboard, and what's more, it has done the FabricLive series a great service in tipping it towards a more consistent keel.