Aims: We study the fragmentation and collapse properties of the dense gas during the onset of high-mass star formation. Methods: We observed the massive (~800 M⊙) starless gas clump IRDC 18310-4 with the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI) at subarcsecond resolution in the 1.07 mm continuum and N2H+(3-2) line emission. Results: Zooming from a single-dish low-resolution map to previous 3 mm PdBI data, and now the new 1.07 mm continuum observations, the substructures hierarchically fragment on the increasingly smaller spatial scales. While the fragment separations may still be roughly consistent with pure thermal Jeans fragmentation, the derived core masses are almost two orders of magnitude larger than the typical Jeans mass at the given densities and temperatures. However, the data can be reconciled with models using non-homogeneous initial density structures, turbulence, and/or magnetic fields. While most subcores remain (far-)infrared dark even at 70 μm, we identify weak 70 μm emission toward one core with a comparably low luminosity of ~16 L⊙, supporting the notion of the general youth of the region. The spectral line data always exhibit multiple spectral components toward each core with comparably small line widths for the individual components (in the 0.3 to 1.0 km s-1 regime). Based on single-dish C18O(2-1) data we estimate a low virial-to-gas-mass ratio ≤ 0.25. We propose that the likely origin of these spectral properties may be the global collapse of the original gas clump that results in multiple spectral components along each line of sight. Even within this dynamic picture the individual collapsing gas cores appear to have very low levels of internal turbulence.