Erik XVI’s Stern-Gerlachs Versioner, released in January on Highpoint Lowlife, compiles seven remixes of tracks from last year’s Stern-Gerlachs Försök EP. The collection is a veritable stylistic melting pot; the dystopian aura of the originals pervades but is filtered through everything from Dissident-style arpeggiator disco to dark garage. This sort of variety is a potential weakness: in pre-download days you might end up paying full price for a single quality track in a sea of duds. Luckily, the curatorial work here is impeccable, rewarding the versatile modern DJ with its diversity.
I think we can pretty much all agree that when we’re talking about dubstep these days, we’re only nominally talking about dubstep. Like the theorized supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, that anemic, bass-powered sound of South London constituting dubstep in the strictest sense keeps a nearly infinite cosmic soup of highly disparate sounds in constant motion without registering much of a blip on its own. High-profile podcasts like The Village Orchestra’s “Blank Page” mix (moving from Boards of Canada to Zomby to Drexciya) and mnml ssgs’s recent SCB mix (in which Paul “Scuba” Rose finds parity between headfucker Donato Dozzy and funky drummer Roska) ostensibly rep dubstep in 2009 as much as DJ Hatcha’s “Dubstep Allstars: Vol. 01″ mix comp did in 2004. It’s not uncommon in dance music for the signifier to lose its signified (see: minimal techno), but it’s perhaps rare for a genre or sub-genre to improve as its title becomes diluted to the point of possible meaninglessness. While the line between Horsepower Productions and the Hotflush roster might not be yardstick-straight, but how brilliant is it that such a line exists in the first place?