There is no shortage of variety in this month's edition of Basal Sounds as we check out the latest releases from across the bass music spectrum...
Blue Six - Let's Do It Together EP / Noesis LP (Naked Music)
"Well I tried to make you see, that the truth will make you free / Yes I know, it's just cliche, but someone learns it every day" - Aya sings on "If You Turn Your Back On Love". It centres critique on lacking access to the ultramundane, the state transcending states, the el duende feeling weaving through deep house dancefloors. The critique patterns as vocal of Blue Six as deep house and not just house music. The reactionary "Stop Calling It Deep House!" article on Mixmag's site in 2013 invited much talk, circulating early pioneers of deeper house sounds opposed to straight-up funk-ululations and 808s.
Blue Six are masters of subtle storytelling and '80s decayed glamour and gloss, NYC drive style. The "Beautiful Tomorrow" LP was a 2002 gem for which "Let's Do It Together", the standout, is lifted. Taken as either a song about companionship or a more sexual connotation, it's an irresistible slice of sultry, soulful and sassy house. As a primer to the later-released (in 2010) "Noesis" LP the cadence is perfect. Put it this way: if you love 4Hero, early Lisa Shaw or Delilah, you're going to love the vocal enchantments of Blue Six. Set over solid production that bobs and juts at just the right trajectory, Aya takes the themes written to another level.
Actress - Ghettoville LP (Ninja Tune / Werk Discs)
This new Actress album is good. Really good. "Rap" is a kind of a thugged out romantic Dillinja on downers-meets-Portishead's way with a chord pattern. "Forgiven" resumes where Death In Vegas' "Dirge" left off. The overall technique of Actress is to harden a groove until it becomes worthy of rinsing out, breaks in the drums signalling a call for change and development. Sounding like the early Streetbeats catalogue circa Blue and The Truper, mixed with post-dubstep's finesse for finding something out of square wave territory, the pace of the album never moves beyond a stoner's crawl. The sort of music you could envisage yourself hearing outside the club when the rave is over; the decayed memories sticking in your head as respectively new tracks.
That "perception glaze" effect seeps through the cracks of the production. Joe Muggs of The Wire commented "If this is the end of the Actress moniker, it surely is a dramatic one", but nevertheless you get the feeling this is the precursor from a real find for Ninja Tune. I'm quite surprised this came out on the label as a split with Werk Discs because there's few jazzy cornerstones to touch. But seeing as ASC & Nvious were almost on the imprint... You never know! The general meaninglessness of the music - at the tail end we have "Don't stop the music" and "Wrap yourself around me" as lyrical hooks; in total "Ghettoville" speaks a language only perceivable by ultramundane notions; polarities shifting to and from the physical world at large.
ERAAS - Initiation LP (Ghostly International)
Out Now on Drip.FM
We at Organic have had an ERAAS instalment already in the shape of "Reworks EP". The follow-up, a full length titled "Initiation", is somewhere between Bonobo's rich-textured organic drums and Joy Division's post-punk vocal and tremolo hues; Ian Curtis feminised. The impact of the beats and their heaviosity on proper speakers is something to behold. The basslines: sometimes simple ostinatos ("The Dream"), give the LP a proggy lineage. Textures on this track are very oriental, infused with carnival spirit. Yet the paradox is the record has an overcast set of timbres working to produce the techniques in a dance / head-nod construct. "Above" goes waltzy in beat, sounding like an "Anarchy In The UK" Sex Pistols intro, with echoed vox littering sonically like a Brixton gobshite. This is an addictive and additive album that eschews any specific genre restrictions, putting the power of drumwork and bass first, melody undercurrent firm anchor. The symbiosis created is very sensual and absorbing, as if nothing could separate you from these works; a koala to a tree.
J-Breaks - Drift EP (Ohm Series 01)
Released: February 23rd 2014
Six tracks of blissed out, slightly unnerving Detroit techno vibes from J-Breaks, a Subvert Central-ite with"Drift" EP being his debut release. The quality is certainly there, and across the perimeter flows a pleasant sense of detachment from our surroundings. "Petrichor" is the one for me, a slowly building, amorphous chocolate slab of dub techno-meets-half-time drum & bass goodness. A change in chord for longest piece "Quark" dovetails from it seamlessly, splaying out nourishing melody in the key of E. Ecstacy is a conditioned response from this music. A very promising start from a label to watch, Ohm Series being a lower tempos than drum & bass and unclassifiable offshoot of the steadfastly rising Omni Music.
Burial - Rival Dealer EP (Hyperdub)
William Bevan has been quiet of late. Apart from an innumerable selfie, he's put out his most adventurous, characterised EP so far, a thirsty three tracker that flirts with new vistas including an extended length of up to 13 minutes for one tune. The themes of love are forever present in Burial, but "Rival Dealer" hits on another angle: tackling the subject of transgender people in today's society, how they fit in, what makes them different, and how we can all relate. Age doesn't define maturity - some people will never grow up - but it really feels that Bevan has matured with this release, toning down the autotuned vox and letting be more humanistic - as opposed to alien and mechanistic - flavours. "Hiders" sounds like Robert Miles had a baby with Tina Cousins, killing time in a hyper-accelarated power trance romp through the outer limits of the charts. Burial's key strength has always been his ability to marry fractured glitches in tempo with melodies that buzz like worker bees on a summer's day; this record shows him at his best.
https://soundcloud.com/burial (No sounds here yet, but check YouTube for the full works).
DJ Q - Ineffable (Local Action)
Released: March 31st 2014
Club sounds with a commendable home listening edge have become more and more common in a capitalist economy where everyone is out for what they can get. DJ Q manages to deliver an album of high octane club sounds that retain a highly listenable bedroom/lounge audience. "Let's get this straight" the press release states, " - a pop record, albeit a pop record raised on MJ Cole, Todd Edwards, French touch and grime". That's pretty accurate. So although treading old ground for the most part, with a lack of new formulas ("Through The Night" and its Amen pattern are textbook), there's a floating aura and aria to the context it's in - coming from a 1xtra and Ministry Of Sound DJ. This is highly energising and palatable two-step pop with a 4/4 rigidity that doesn't lose the furthest away of ears. I want to hear more of DJ Q.
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.