[8 December 2008]
Throwing jabs from the techno-heavy corner of the dubstep sound, producer Headhunter occupies the jittery territory mapped out by 2008’s Round Black Ghosts comp on ~scape or the lot that Appleblim selected for Dubstep Allstars: Vol. 6. Although his name made neither tracklist, Headhunter’s debut LP is rich with the danceable strain that dubstep audiences have consumed by the truckload in recent months. Indeed, since Tectonic head/producer Pinch snuck his “The Haunted” into the mix half of the powerful Tectonic Plates collection two years ago, Headhunter has made considerable strides.
Nomad doesn’t engage as immediately as the horde of rather overwhelmingly technical full-lengths bearing the same tag in 2008 does—the Bristol, UK artist’s work comes off repetitive in parts. In most sections, though, Headhunter’s work bears the mark of progress in the studio, as well as a producer moving ahead in the morphing dubstep landscape. Headhunter’s album is sometimes a stark missive, with steam pipe-like bursts and dub techno’s pattering beats that render tracks “Grounded” and “In Motion” frigid and strikingly distant. “Birk’s Range” matches a deep stomp with Headhunter’s inkling toward ass shaking. These Nomad standouts ripple with unpredictability and development, and rather than encouraging upright mingling when he fires these off in a club, Headhunter might instead find everyone sitting down on the dancefloor during “Birk’s”, trying to nail down a pattern to its mystifying blitz of shimmying sounds.