Three weeks to go until we host our last UKF10 rave, marking a full year of 10 year anniversary celebrations.
UKF10 takes place December 14 at Studio 338, one of London’s best-suited raving dens for the full-spectrum bass line-up we’ve recruited. Plastician is one of many DJs helping us celebrate our biggest year to date, he’s heading up Room 2 with Emalkay, Joker, The Others B2B Subscape and Enada. It’s our best dubstep line-up in London in years.
To celebrate, we’ve asked him to pick 10 essential dubstep classics. He did not let us down. He’s reached beyond than the well-known classics and universal anthems and drawn for something deeper. Right from 2001 dark garage to 2010 halftime fusions, he’s picked 10 great examples of blueprints, benchmarks and boundary-breakers during dubstep’s first 10 years.
While each of these made tremors on the underground, and many were consistently hammered at dubstep’s primordial melting pot FWD, not all of them crossed over to the wider dance and haven’t been so heavily played since. Even to fans who were there at the time, some of these tracks will be a fresh experience. Head to Studio 338 on December 14 to experience a similarly-executed selection.
“There’ll be a mix of everything,” says the Terrorhythm bossman who recently released the mysterious Tracksuit Goth’s debut, his label’s first dubstep record in years. “A few grime and dubstep classics. Lots of new stuff. I’m really enjoying how dubstep has gone back to its roots a bit, it’s more about the vibe and the idea and it’s got its swing back again. It should be a good one. It’ll be great to see all these acts in the same room. We see each other at festivals but it’s rare to see it happen in a club, especially in London.”
See you on December 14. In the meantime, get to know these 10 cult foundation-setting dubstep tracks as selected by the man himself…
Skream – Shake-It (Tempa, 2008)
This one’s from Skreamizm Vol 4. The most well-known track on that EP was Oskillatah but this was my favourite. It just had that swing to it that a lot of tracks were losing at the time. I’m actually playing this a lot again now, the percussion gives it that vibe which didn’t follow the more robotic groove that was dominant when this came out. Skream was so prolific during this era, it’s incredible looking back just how much he made.
Roxy & El-B – Cuba (Bison Recordings, 2001)
This one is an absolute FWD anthem long before the night even reached for Plastic People! Going right back to the genre’s garage foundations. El-B was one of the dark garage pioneers who played such a strong role in the sound. Roxy collaborated with him a few times and they were both part of El-B’s Ghost Records crew. Sadly he’s no longer with us.
Mark One – Plodder (Contagious, 2005)
Mark often gets overlooked, because he was coming from Manchester but he did some incredible tracks. We both came through around the same time and played each other’s tracks and this was a constant track in my set for years. It’s a proper unearthed gem. We both toured America together around this time. It was our first US tour and we were with Bogdan Raczynski and Todd Osborn Soundmurderer and Grant Wilson-Claridge who runs Rephlex. I’d never heard anything like the music the guys were playing, it was a real ear and eye opener. We were wild kids back then, that was a mental tour. And of course now Mark’s flipped the game and is killing it as Solardo. Fair play to him, he’s the man of the moment, but he’s still the same old Mark whenever I see him. Respect.
Menta – The Soul (Self-released, 2002)
This one was a classic in the early days, Croydon, before a lot of us got to play FWD. Hatcha would play this on pirate all the time. Menta is actually Artwork and Danny Harrison and they were all part of a collective who were part of D’n’D Productions and 187 Lockdown and that whole speed garage movement. This was their darker project for the sound that would eventually become dubstep. It wasn’t called that back then. We all knew it as the FWD sound. These guys, Horsepower Productions, El-B, Oris Jay. They were the ones putting in the foundations long before dubstep became a thing.
Coki – Red Eye (Big Apple, 2007)
My favourite Coki tune. Everyone knows Tortured, Shattered, Burning and obviously Night, but this one really reminds me of playing shows with Skepta, he loved this tune as well and I’ve got a lot of memories of playing it with him. Coki had his own sound, but the great thing back then was that everyone had their own sound. There weren’t that many producers and the ones at the forefront were at the forefront of their own. There weren’t that many copycats. All the people who really pushed the sound and made a mark on it had their own sound; Joker, Silkie, Artwork, Benga, Skream. Everyone sounded so different to each other and Coki was a bit of a monster back then.
Joker – Digidiesign (Om Unit Pop Lock Remix) (Self-release, 2010)
I put Joker’s first release out on Terrorhythm and was quite keen to get more stuff from him but the turnaround with vinyl costs took months and by then Hyperdub came in and picked up Digidesign. During that time Om Unit had done this amazing flip. Real low and slow tempo. So ahead of its time. He was one of my favourite producers back then and still is now. I actually put Om Unit’s first release out – The Corridor. It took ages to get out but I’m so glad we did. This was a time when the sound was opening up and people were able to play around with tempos a bit. Jim [Om Unit] was amazing at that. He was only just setting up the Om Unit project back then and the demos floating around at the time were just timeless. Listen to this now and it still sounds ahead of any time.
Pinch – Punisher (Planet Mu, 2006)
I just love this track. It came out on Planet Mu in 2006 and it reminds me of playing on the BBC. It’s a massively underrated track. I love the progression and how it constantly changes. It’s a slow burner and the tone of the bass really gets me. Pinch was the first person to book me in Bristol actually. He booked me for Subloaded and that’s where I met Joker for the first time. It loved the Bristol scene. They were always really appreciative and just up for anything. The whole scene was very community-driven at the time and connections like this would be made every time we went to different cities. It was a mad melting pot and the exchange between each place was important for the sound.
Skream – Lemon (Dubplate, 2005/6)
This was a classic Skream dub he played at every party. it had a really recognisable intro that everyone knew the second you could hear it coming into the mix. It was one of his biggest tunes, he played it at every party and yet it never came out. It’s an actual dub that, I hope, will always be a dub. I hope it never comes out, it’s nice memory. A very special one.
Macabre Unit – Lift Off (Terrorhythm, 2005)
One from my own label. This was an anthem. I signed it instantly when they sent it over to me. I needed to put it out. It still sounds fresh now, it doesn’t sound like anything around back then or now. I hope someone is reading this now and has never heard it and gets inspired. You could play it in a set now and it wouldn’t sound a day old. It’s stood the test of time greatly.
Dub Child – Roll Dat Shit (Storming Productions, 2005)
“This is something I had on dubplate and played the hell out of. It’s all about that classic wobble bass. It eventually came out on Caspa’s first label Storming Productions, back when he was making music as Quiet Storm. This is such a simple tune but had so much impact whenever you dropped it at FWD. One of the most recognisable tracks from that era. Again, I hope people hear this for the first time. It’s so simple and addictive. It doesn’t sound out of place to this day.”