The one like Muttley guides us through another month of sonically superior riddims in his monthly bass music run down. Now 'ear dis.
Eschaton - Ohmnivorous LP (Omni Music Ohm Series)
Out April 2014
"It's based on styles from the early-mid nineties that I listened to (non drum & bass), which I've never actually produced, so it was challenging trying to get the ideas to work" says Chris Wright, aka Eschaton, who you'll normally find prolifically releasing a deluge of deep atmospheric beats from a variety of new and established producers with Omni Music. The Ohm Series gives him the chance to show his ambient house side, and the early results are highly listenable. A grower that'll take a few listens to really appreciate, "Ohmnivorous" takes from the yin and yang of universal current, the dark and light sounds of drum & bass he has spoken of in past interviews and works amorphous melody to formulate a kofta kebab of meaty goodness. "Tulpa" is one of the most uptempo, and along with opener "Jati", the closest to goa trance before the "t" became a dirty word in the dance music press. It's all ravishing stuff, yet tinged with an emptiness that belies the best house; layers beyond harmony, percussion and tempo are ultramundane and ready to be feasted upon, in the form of a gap for the listener to fill in.
Mark E - Bog Dance (Ghostly International Single)
Out now via Drip.FM
Analogue arpeggiation: not a new feature on the bass music circuit. But Mark E knows how to rock an arpeggio pattern like a pro, and importantly make it work splendidly. On this progressive bass thumper that treads forward like a lurching monolith, light percussion rounds out the edges and displays a rimshot device, connecting tension and release of the synthesizer ripples to a larger furore. Instead of going down the drain in progression, "Bog Dance" resonates as an Autechre and 808 State-ite slice of acid house reassembly. '80s synths background the buggy dance of the later section like a slug sliding into water. One of the strongest singles I've heard in quite some time, as determined as an underdog to give it some on the speakers and come out winning with bells and whistles on.
Ikonika - Lost Dubs Vol.2
Free Mediafire download - Out Now
After the heavily-publicised "Aerotropolis" LP on Hyperdub, Sara Abdel-Hamid, aka Ikonika, released the second free download of "Lost Dubs" through Mediafire. This sparked the interest of many fans, journalists and producers worldwide, and places her art in a position where it is an aposite parallel to exclusivity. With exclusivity comes false charm, and that's where all her music differs, being "Accessible", "Splitting Quarks" in half at the rubbish dump, and telling you "You Are Almost There" with precision beats and samples, to quote titularly from three tracks on this release. "Off Mode" sounds like Berlin house music matched with technoid Detroit squiggles of synth, the modern R&B vocal warblings patterning a solid 4/4 groove. From an exact stepper style to a more fluid, professed sheen, Sara mixes it up on "Lost Dubs 2" with a great deal of enjoyment to be had by the audience, although it must be said the pieces except "With Your Face" and "Down It With Your Eyes" work more as lounge fare than club dynamite.
Flying Lotus - Ideas + Drafts + Loops
Free Mediafire download - Out Now
This - get the demonstrative pronoun in there for good measure - is one of those records that eschews every categorization you throw at it, yet still manages to maintain a footing in electronic and bass music. There are heavily processed slinkies like "The Diddler", sounding like Boards Of Canada with a pet rocket up their ass; sinister hip hop paradiddles on "The Kill feat. Niki Randa", a swell orchestral leverage recalling Clint Mansell and Xela if they collaborated on "Flotus", and oodles of little doodles that you can order into your own album. That's the best way of listening to "Ideas + Drafts + Loops": remember a few key tracks, order the rest around them, or take out anything that isn't quite your thing. I have had evenings where I've had a purely instrumental and melodic session with the 60+ minutes (there are 42 minutes of mint instrumental play on this, to be sure); and other times where I've challenged myself a tad and snuck in a hip hop track. Another important clincher point for me on this record is that it made me appreciate the more mundane aspects of hip hop - primarily through groove, second tone.
Xeno & Oaklander - Par Avion (Ghostly International Single)
Out Now via Drip.FM
A slice of the 140 BPM '80s circa The Human League and Visage with "Par Avion", literally French for "by airplane", and that's certainly a fitting nom de plume for the wiry, synapse-shredding sonics put through the background synthesizers on this single. They traipse everywhere, sticking out of chord and discord, sounding like a computer processing a complex algorithm. Wind atmosphere gives an airy sound to the timbre, while the tone of the lyrics (seemingly half-English) is soft and contrasts well. The beats are pure digital ephemera, bobbing in a continuous loop with an analog bassline that treads between D and E notes in an arpeggio pattern that's light on ripple. This is one of the more striking singles to have come out of the electronica underground lately.
Studio Rockers @ The Controls - Level 2 (Studio Rockers Limited Edition CD)
Out April 2014
A worthy addition to the bass music cannon, Studio Rockers' artists reinvent the art of the dub loop with a spritzy range of FX and drum patterns to keep the energy flowin'. Short on rehashing benchmarks of old, the compilation goes further and deeper than most, with "Mungenden" by Marcel Lune and "Sea Of Trees" by Lewis Badwan being clear standouts for the way they meld melody mightily while displaying drums dextrously. A root problem of much dubstep-inflected music is its lyrical anonymity or murk, but these tracks cut through that glaze and are all the better for it. The production sounds razor sharp thanks to good mastering; the textures of the bass enwombing like a regulated cuddle. Via a small palette of carefully honed techniques: percussion dropouts, vocal build-ups, fat sub cushioning, and a stylistic reliance on minimalism over maximalism, at 15 tracks this comp knows just when to duck out of run time.
Tycho - Awake LP (Ghostly International)
"Awake" has been featured twice in Basal Sounds: once as a mention, second as a top ten entry in my yearly chart for Organic. With seven additional tracks, "Awake LP" deserved more praise. The lineage is a official language of electronica; beats and guitar music with synthesizers, but the way the Tycho three-piece wrap up the distances between genres so that it somehow comes close to post-rock without knowing is an enigma. They create an Ever Ready battery of stylism on the instruments. The drums on "Apogee" are weighted like lead crystals: cracking in timbre and crunching into drum and bass tempo but remaining replenished by a post-dubstep haze. Meanwhile, the riffs filter in and out like air through a vent, slowly enveloping the soundscape until the chords become a central pivot. The movement enacts gravity games with your mind, as if the whole world could come crashing down amidst hearing these tunes and you wouldn't notice. That totality in grasping attention is a quality Tycho have nailed down to a doomed art, and the arpeggiation is also a rare breed of bashfulness and weird-eccentric dualism. Overall, "Awake" is a joyous record that is well deserving of a place on the esteemed Ghostly International label, and I hope the guys go on to have great success.
Shackelton - Freezing Opening Thawing (Septic005)
Quite an oddity even by Shackelton standards, "Freezing Opening Thawing" is riddled with additive synthesis and playful time deviations that see to underplay a slight effectiveness. When you listen closer, the plain resonates like a dog in need of feeding up, ribs showing, exhausted, yet agitated, and eventually full of vim. Those emotions can also all be felt by what context it's intended for - the dance. Oriental charm and Orbital-ish hyper-speed synth articulations are present, a defining characteristic that places this release away from "Blood On My Hands" by some margin. Eliminating the dead wood of dubstep - tired pacing, space masturbation and bass fetishisation, Shackelton reminds us what dance music used to be all about; a melting pot of influences cooked up at various tempos and denying expectations on all accounts. My favourite here is "White Flower With Silvery Eye" for that eerie, effected vocal sample interspersed with choral synths and ketchup splats of bass.
Agree with my selections this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me at @MuttleySV on Twitter.