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Basal Sounds

Muttley SubVersion

If you love good electronic music and don't discriminate between the preconceived barriers of "genre", then read on... Our man Muttley talks us this months musical musings.

Matthew Dear – Pom Pom Remixes (Ghostly International)
Out Now

Like breaking a fingernail, Matthew Dear's music requires a process of gentle nurturing in its environment to grow on you. The "Pom Pom Remixes" EP on Ghostly is best as a loud tear-up; a partial club-fare, hyperventilating electric guitar solo over "The Juan Maclean Mix – Instrumental" expedient of bass music's leverage to provide transcendent charisma. "The Juan Maclean Acid Overhaul Dub Mix" is also very effective from its squiggly, clotted melody lines. A choral synth drone enters over halfway, intruding in phased staccato when the beats and bass drop back in. Very well produced, and hard to forget once it's wormed its way into you.

Born Allah & Erule – Dub Fritterz EP
Out Now

"Beige rocks chopped with a toxic blade" / "Smashed through the absence of my bright future" / "You roll me if you know me and I keep it all true". If these type of abstract, West Coast drawl infused rhymes rivet you somehow, despite their inconsequentiality to Roland Rat hip hop, Born Allah & Erule, an Ice-T collaborator, should give you something to vibe on with this single. "When West Coast come out, man go lock their doors, don't want to see a man get bored" from Blaq Suga guesting on the piece is painted well as a club banger in the accompanying YouTube video. The Roland Rat "find a flea and scratch" fake gangster culture essence is kept to a minimum, instead (and suitably) giving the quality of the music precedence. The autotune, 'n' word and 'motherfucker' using cringe sect of hip hop rhymers and listeners could learn a thing or two from this EP.

Digital – Figjam EP (Horizons Music)
Out Now

Who doesn't remember "Ras 78"? Or to be more contemporary, "Termite"? These tracks did one thing and they did one thing very well – they were filler tunes that livened up the dance. But as with any established producer, boundaries are something to be tested, and Horizons Music have collected four rigid, turgid Digital cuts into one EP, "Figjam". There's a bit too much synth and drum pattern repetition for my liking; yes, this is dance music, but it's also experimental music - throwing a curveball in here and there isn't to discredit its flow. "Figjam (Slowjam Mix)" works most effectively, being cushioned in poignancy by dubstep's incessancy for minimalism, whereas the harmonies lurking inside "Therapy" and "Figjam" are crying out to loosen the shackles on. Still, indifference aside, this is a very good offering from a label that continues to grow its worth.

Suburban Base Records – The History Of Hardcore, Jungle & Drum & Bass 3CD (Sub Base)
Out Now

The hardcore CD sounds a bit pedestrian now, with its conventional drum samples repeated ad infinitum over acid curry, but "Far Out [Original Scratchedelic Mix]" by Sonz Of De Loop De Loop Era, "Sesame's Treet [Vocal Mix]" and "Hardcore Will Never Die [Telepathic Mix]" from Q-Bass are classics in my books. This first disc, the early Sub Base history, shows how similarity-over-radicalism minded we as producers and punters have become 2002 onwards, how conservative we are in what influences we use to create a new audiological future. Some say it's impossible to see the origins of rave in today's drum 'n' bass, but listen closer: you're not hearing 'choppage' or 'drum funk', you're hearing solid candy arrangements that only break down, in the breakdown. These are productions that take the hook of pop and fuse it with 808s, subs and rave synths to formulate an esoteric fantasia soundtrack. It also commands attention because of the production method these artists took: start with a drum sample in most cases. That carves stasis out of noodling, and while noodling isn't always good, it does cover more experimental ground than just a simple rinse-out. This first CD especially shows the exponential rise of rave in today's dance heavy consciousness – speed up Molly (no pun), for instance, this year's UK Eurovision entry by 10 BPM and we could have had something lifted straight out of the crossover underground.

Marcel Lune – Hal 9000 EP (Audio Doughnuts)

One of the criteria for "Basal Sounds" as a column previously without name was music that can't exactly be bracketed as techno, and Marcel Lune's "Hal 9000" EP is case in point. Playfulness in percussion really helps to augment the music with a wistful, optimistic air. "Alpha" pitter-patters its drums as layers of an onion, slowly curling back the skin to shed new accents compositionally with time. A close comparative is Andy Stott, but generally speaking, there isn't much house/techno amalgams out there as professional sounding as this. The BPM sits at about 125, with bossa nova sounding elements craftily cutting up and re-inserting themselves. Detroit just got a fresh spin too.

Foci's Left – Derelict Career LP (Foci's Left)
Out Now

Since there's some tracks with beats in here, and there's wholly as much bass as possible, it seems for me okay to plug this in Basal Sounds. Concept: the ambient music protagonist sees that ambient-exclusive musicians are fit for a "derelict career", as besides Brian Eno, the style has no sustainable capital powering it; it must stay a hobby. Ambient is Eno's invention and to have success, musicians must look outside their niche to move through different styles. Ambient has been going since the 1950s - it is often mixed with new age as a genre, music for Tai Chi, and healing/therapy medicine. So the point to make is to, jokingly so, try and avoid a "derelict career", in order to progress and have an audience - the most important faculty for me; money isn't important, people are.

Pinecone Moonshine Vinyl 012-A – Macc, Liquid Break, Hidden Element, Icarus, Snaper, Eschaton, Fushara (Pinecone Moonshine)
Out Now

This review is based on me purchasing the digital, where you'll get a great bonus remix of "Cygni X" by Make:Shift & Omni-ite Thushara Goonwardene. Macc leads the bass music waterfall with jazz samples while wearing sunglasses percussively – this is programmed jazzy drum & bass, stooped in the murky unease of Charles Mingus and Art Blakey. "Stabbed In The Back" employs an ultraviolet string light and detuned piano that settles the mood as one of pensive strain and depression. That's apt as he said he's cried many times when he's listened to this. The effect of this vinyl collection doesn't strike its finishing blow immediately – rewards are to be reaped if you replay the recordings. Icarus' unicycling drum re-arrangement and weighty subs amply please also, and Snaper's "Deja Vu" fills the void left by Dissident in terms of Warp-tronica. Top marks.

Various Artists – Auxcast CDs (Auxiliary Music)
Out Now

You can see the viability for Auxcast – a podcast series, preceded by the Autonomic Podcast, of which ASC was a part of, and acts like dBridge & Instra:Mental co-founded. The music blurred genre boundaries like an out-of-focus kaleidoscope photograph, reverting to a genre-less approach whenever things became opaque or otherworldly. Auxcast's CD and digital series is no different, taking the most popular cuts from the podcast and putting them in purchaseable form for the listener, stroke hipster. (That's meant tongue in cheek - it's easy to be down on what has benefitted from trendiness: dubstep, bass music as a tag, jungle's resurfacing amongst less informed journalists). What is crucial: ASC and his camp were ploughing their own furrow sometimes years before any of this began. Take Method One, "the" first proponent of active drum & bass coverage in the US in the 1990s. His "The Traveller"moves well here; on Auxiliary he explores a well-trodden path of halftime, drum & bass, stroke cod-downtempo. "Heartfelt" by ASC and Vaccine is the most radical, taking a dubstep framework to start and then upping the tempo gradually through the piece, something that Tim Exile has only done audibly otherwise on his "Listening Tree" album. Auxcast CD 2, what this review focuses on, has a kinetic simplicity to it, as well as an abstract narrative of movement, time and space, emotional forcefields - borderline pragmatic sequencing that only strengthens the legacy previous ASC label Covert Operations left in its wake.

Tobacco – Ultima II Massage (Ghostly International)
Out Now

Mostly dayglo and nu rave-clunk drum wise, LA Vampires by way of revamped Gary Numan, "You give me one last chance to be someone else...eruption" thematically ties with how the songs on offer intercept ossification and try and break away from it. Best listened to in lower volume than say, Matthew Dear in Basal Sounds May 2014 column, the ultramundanity of maximalism arises as a breakthrough emotion from this release. It's as if – yes, it's obvious – putting more in until the barometer goes wobble would tax anyone's attention limits, but from a transcendent context – pulse and metre meddling with each other in creed and non-centred attacking of each other – the work is edging skywards through a very alien textural offset. Sitting somewhere between comedown dance music and synth pop, Tobacco make every efficient use of saw waves in their synths to project a soluble sugar cube of dissipated, diffusing logic. "Creaming For Beginners" is the best for me, for going schizophrenic in structure – heavy to light, harsh to soft – and approaching Boards... gently.

Agree with my selections this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via or hit me at @MuttleySV on Twitter.