With a new article series for all things bass music related, Muttley SubVersion takes a closer look at 5 new releases that are breaking new ground...
'Basal Sounds' is ultimately a column for music that hits you in the chest - basal being doctor terminology to measure heart rate and the thumps of the muscle. It's also kinda catchy given bass music has become so first-rate for catching everything between 120-160 BPM that doesn't quite fit it's own genre. As a writer, I, Muttley SubVersion have been covering leftfield drum & bass, jungle, ambient and electronica for 7 1/2 years for over 10 publications, so now it made sense to get involved with Organic, seeing as they're some prime movers alright!
V.I.V.E.K - SYSTM 003 EP (System Music)
Released: 18th November 2013
Starting with a long, deep but never too drawn out ambient intro, V.I.V.E.K's "Systm 003" EP takes you into it's world of fractured snares and violin-esque female vocal with gentle ease. Laurel Halo recently commented in The Wire Magazine that: "nothing's going to evolve if you say hard vocals are masculine and female vocals are feminine". Like the impact of dubstep, it all depends on context. The bass-and-tish becomes less a prominently pushed aural doctrine here as it is an undertow, like a whirlpool driven by reese basses. This nature in the sound collage V.I.V.E.K is embracing bodes well for extending the scope of dubstep, while maintaining compassion for it's inner self - the landmark FWD> nights; the Hessle Audio bass pioneering in recent years. "Asteroids VIP" takes the original - one of the only V.I.V.E.K releases in his discography that's not on Deep Medi or Tectonic - into chorally sound, mechanical percussive dance with synth textures that fill up your eardrums very nicely. It's got more of that lurching android swagger and a certain pensiveness about it that defines V.I.V.E.K's sound as a whole.
ERAAS - Reworks (Ghostly International)
Post-punk meets shoegaze and bass music. The Fall's Mark E Smith taken off booze in the 90s with his vocal timbre paired up with Slowdive's cascading chords for some proto-techno, electronica-extrapolating 110-150 BPM sounds. Ghostly International will be familiar to anyone investigating ASC collaborator Bvdub, whereas on this release ERAAS' results are bass-heavy microcosms that Kraftwerk would be proud of in the modern dubstep-led era. I'm featuring this specifically as it manages to distill everything that's good in thoughtful dubstep into a variety of tempos.
The depth of Silent Servant's re-interpretation of "Briar Path" is no exception, with weighty bass melting alongside a techno cheese-grater and oodles of vocal drippings lashing at the sides - slightly unnervingly. However due to a solid major chord pulse played throughout, "Reworks" succeeds in becoming soothing over time. Black Marble's Lost Borough remix of "Fang" takes an LA hipster Indie slant on electronica, wafting towards Boards Of Canada's downtempo stylings but not quite getting there. The shoegazey guitar lines of The KVB's "At Heart" remix alternate 130 BPM-ish tempo with a swirling reverie of reverbed vocal crush, and a killer bullet round drum pattern, acting upon delayed bass tones.
The main thing that drew me to reload this release so many times was it's perfect length and brevity as such. "Briar Path (ERAAS remix)" is a neat post-dubstep amalgam that ends the EP on a real high. There may be a lot of meaningless cross-genre music about - and it's always going to be about - but with ERAAS' "Reworks EP" there's a great transcention of instrumental lucidity into what is as much a little club gem as it is an ideal home listening energiser. More please.
Broken Haze - Vital Error (Raid System)
Released: Oct 28th
Talking of energising, we have this chiptune-smearing, video game maximalism from Broken Haze. 14 tracks combining electro, hip hop and dubstep speeds and stylings, wound round an ingrained theme of persuasive dance posturing. Early highlight "Optical Camouflage" sounds like The Young Ones hijacked the University Challenge broadcast and found an amazement in their buzzer commands - hypnotic, trance-inducing movement, with synths that are wracked with nervous pulses. "Platinum Turbo" meanwhile takes the rhythmic momentum of bill-sharing artists Kode 9 and Hudson Mohawke and injects some chipmunk junglist sass. Big room floor-fillers like "Armoured Unicorns" benefit from more experimental (handclaps and various bleepy automations) paraphenalia to set them apart from being just pastiche of disco-inflected funk. The remixes from artists including Machinedrum shape a nice re-interpretation to the package. If a criticism could be the LP is too long for a debut, there's ample answer to the cause and effect: Japan-ite Keisuke Ito, aka Broken Haze has a sound you need to hear. Go and investigate.
https://soundcloud.com/brokenhaze for a wealth of Broken Haze material. No publically online audio for this one yet.
Logos - Cold Mission (Keysound Recordings)
Released: 18th November 2013
Let's not start on a negative note, simply something to keep in mind for next time: the junglist vinyl rewind sound has been done to death on drum & bass and jungle records since the early nineties. However with "Cold Mission", it takes on a motif character, breaking up the stuttered beats with gun reload (Resident Evil anyone?) and glass breaking sounds that give a certain, rough-cut and rough-hewn edge to the polished production James Logos identifies with. The title is a nod to junglists 4Hero, from their alias of the same name, and although the tempo is way slower, the collaboration with Mumdance, "Wut It Do" sheds transcendentally introspective light on the "Think" breakbeat. Elsewhere alternating soundsets give a zest for life, such as the depth charge bass of "Seawolf", too an early standout. The dark atmosphere encased in the sonics - the press release smacks the nail on the head when saying it sounds like a collection of darkside jungle breakdowns - are nonetheless never too bleak, a quality Logos owes to his own individuality.
Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)
In listening to this you feel a smile can't fail to be cracked. And that's what we need! Out since the end of July, I had to include this for the closing track "Hidden XS" which is an absolute beast of a tune. Raw, searing synthesizer bass and dubstep-advancing drums adds up to a ravey cocktail of 140 BPM, essential bass music, post-dubstep done without any consideration for Skrillex as it steals the dance floor punters from the venue. Well, at least it ought to. The rest of the album is on an equal quality level, venturing into a range of pigeonhole-bothering pools with an emphasis on playing its cards on the other side of the table completely. Opener "Brainfreeze" is a spot-on example of this, a rock undercurrent drenched in phased synth blasts that partner Industrial heavyweight Jesu with the complimentary hefty Boxcutter in low end seismics. The seriously narcotic grooves present on "Year Of The Dog" crunch up Aphex Twin cereal and splay a rambunctious slab of hypnotic arpeggiation. "Surf Solar" may have been racketed at The Olympics ceremony in the UK in 2012, but "Slow Focus" is the real winner.
Agree with my selections this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via email@example.com or hit me at @MuttleySV on Twitter.