Various Artists - Mary Anne Hobbs
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Various Artists
Mary Anne Hobbs' Warrior Dubz

Mary Anne Hobbs is a BBC Radio 1 DJ who has long sought out underground electronic, drum and bass, hip hop, and other music to help it reach a wider audience with her show. Over the course of the past year or so, she's especially seen the rise of dubstep and the continued development of grime, and this fourteen track compilation pulls together a slew of her favorite tracks from those genres as well as others. In addition to already-released tracks, Warrior Dubz also includes some exclusives from big names created especially for the release.

The compilation starts out in a killer way with "Deadman Walking," the opening and best track from last years Extend by Milanese. Things get a little lighter with the follower "Music Box" by Benga, as loops of vibes tinkle over gritty bass, synth string stabs and some beats that crunch nicely. Like the less successful tracks on the release, it takes a few sounds and doesn't develop them enough to really sustain interest throughout the track. The same could probably be said for the normally reliable Burial, which turn in the unreleased "Versus," which basically sounds like a sped-up six-minute reworking of a couple tracks from their debut.

There are a slew of standouts on the compilation, though, and introduced me at least to several artists I will have to keep an eye out for. "Cha Vocal" by Plastician, which also Shizzle, Fresh & Napper is an insanely catchy slammer that heaves with huge groaning bass throbs and words spit out by the three different MCs while ragga-style yells punctuate things. Sounding almost completely out-of-place on the compilation is the 4/4 burner "Black" by Andy Stott, which keeps things hyper-minimal with only relentless hollowed-out beats, menacing slabs of synths, and some subtle layering that keeps pushing the track ever onward.

As with just about every other type of music I listen to, it seems that I'll simply have to plow through a load of music by different artists while sorting the ones I do like from the ones that I don't. In addition to the aforementioned, the ever-reliable The Bug turns in a great track, while Spor drops a breakbeat-laced track that squeals with modulation and ripping feedback. Plus, it closes out with the great "Kingson" by Kode9 & The Spaceape, so it's certainly more enjoyable than not. Even with a couple tracks that aren't quite as solid, Mary Anne Hobbes' has put together a very nice compilation of dubstep that will no doubt allow the curious to discover a few new names to check out.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2007-04-19 19:50:48