Unlike most artist albums, a collection of a single artist’s previously released works provides an overview of their growth and stylistic evolution. Albums often lack information as to when their contents were written and recorded — what came first, what was last, which song had been kicking around for a couple years. With most collections that information is often more obvious, from the sequencing of the record to the more thorough liner notes. Infra001-4, Spatial’s collection of four EPs and various downloads from 2008-2010, is roughly ordered in the same chronology of their release. It’s a remarkable charting of not only Spatial’s output, but also of the mutating sounds of dance music over the past couple years as well.
The first quarter of the record involves minimal house styles, with “80207” being the most exemplary of this approach. A light dusting of female vocals repeats in tandem with the escalating intensity of the track. Spatial employs squiggly keys and, in the climax, a dramatic minor key pattern that emulates strings over stark that bubble with quiet relentlessness. This track also serves to segue ever so slightly into a more half-step beat, with the following “70810” expanding on that thought. Even though Spatial doesn’t go fully into garage, the pattern, deep bass and mid-range synths feel in line with the Loefah/Kryptic Minds take on this genre. Slow, methodical, atmospheric, this track vaults Spatial into a different realm. “90121” is perhaps the most dubstep leaning song of the set, with echoing percussion and bending bass lines cutting through the middle.
Showing further growth and a clear ear to the ground is “81012,” which feels kin to the garage-leaning sounds of Joe and FaltyDL while pushing forward into a unique cinematic sound of his own. Likewise, “90807” sounds like garage filtered through five years of dubstep, using textured bass and minor key melodies in conjunction with cut up vocals and 2-step style beats. Towards the end, particularly with “100402,” Spatial starts playing with juke BPMs, presenting a more mechanical and faster-paced bass track, complicated patterns of beat splayed over jerky melody with abandon. The closer “100505” sounds similar to what Machinedrum is doing within this style, pushing more melody and lighter textures to the sometimes rough style of bass music. Infra001-4 presents a wide range of styles over a significant amount of time that mirrors what has been happening in the global dance scene. However, Spatial shouldn’t be seen as following each movement, but rather filtering the changing sounds of bass through his own production techniques and perspective.