Om Unit’s dubstep before dubstep

Bristol’s acid dub evangelist tracks back through the archives of accidentally prescient cuts foreshadowing the 140 boom.

We love a concept mix here at International Orange. Any old mug can sling together a bunch of the hottest new promos and call themselves a Boiler Room legend, but we’re here for nerdy obsessions and obscure patterns detected in the frankly excessive amount of music that exists. Jim ‘Om Unit’ Coles clearly feels the same way as he presents his Prologue mixtape, which features track from 1992-1999 which basically sound like dubstep. He’s not the only one to be musing on this idea – just check this deadly stepper-not-stepper from Baby Ford & The Ifach Collective in 2000, which someone definitely flagged online somewhere recently (apologies for the lack of due credit).

There is a certain kick about finding tracks which stand up as examples of a genre which had not yet taken shape, and Coles has done a grand job of anchoring his idea by tasking excellent writer Laurent Fintoni with some liner notes for the tape edition of his mix.

“Ideas about music are not unique to their creator,” Fintoni writes, “but perhaps more like versions, interpretations of the echo that is the universal feeling of the times, accessible to all and located firmly outside the limitations of time as a linear force. And sometimes musicians hear that echo too soon and their ideas are left to wait until the culture can catch up with them. We might call it accidental music, a vibe without full cultural context.”

We can get behind that, and we can get behind the selection and the blends which should satisfy anyone with an appreciation for dubstep. As far as we’re aware there’s no tracklisting included, but perhaps those with their hands on a physical copy can confirm if there is one tucked away behind Guillaume De Ubeda’s on-point artwork. There are a few copies still up on the Om Unit Bandcamp, and you can hear some teaser clips there, too.

To the future, back!