The Femme Fatale mix by Swob, makes up the next volume of Dexian Racking‘s fiction series inspired by music of a variety of concepts that are sinister in nature. Following the first installment themed “The Swamp“, the second is from, in Brad Swobs words…
“A bit of superfluous background: I have over the last year or so enjoyed a lot of Humphrey Bogart films, jazz and L.A. Noire on Xbox! At any rate, please find below a link to the mix for Volume 2: The Femme Fatale. “
Download and listen below. Submit your text interpretations of these bitter sweet sounds by midnight Friday 20th January 2012.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and Brad will hook you up with the details.
No one could have guessed in 1985 when Radiohead formed that they would find themselves at the vanguard of cutting-edge, bass-heavy electronic music. They enjoyed moderate success off the back of their first single ‘Creep’ from their 1993 debut album Pablo Honey. Two years later they released The Bends but it wasn’t until 1997 when the band released OK Computer that Radiohead became a household name around the globe. The record’s sweeping, cinematic vibe and lyrical musings on modern alienation were enriched by their first subtle flirtations with electronic music. The album – now often considered among the best of the decade – topped charts globally and spawned a massive two-year tour.
Upon their return home the band quarrelled over where to take their music next. DJ Shadow’s debut album Endtroducing….. had been in high rotation during the OK Computer recording sessions and Thom Yorke jumped at the chance to write and record a song with him that ended up on the 1998 album Psyence Fiction by UNKLE. Yorke had been a DJ and even dabbled in techno production when he was at university and at this point was almost exclusively listening to electronic music. When Radiohead re-assembled in early 1999 to record a new album, Yorke pushed for a more rhythmic, electronic sound with treated vocals, synths and drum machines. Their next two albums Kid A and Amnesiacwere comprised of tracks from these sessions and the radical change in sonic direction caught many off-guard. For every critic and fan that hailed the new material as genius, there were many others left cold by the lack of guitars and traditional rock elements.
In 2006, Thom Yorke unveiled his solo album The Eraser – a pure electronica album. The uniquely raw and layered textures of the record were well received, nominated for both a Grammy and the Mercury Prize. The Eraser was released in the middle of a groundswell in the UK underground scene. The first wave of dubstep and bass music had blown up and none of this was lost on the Radiohead vocalist. An early champion of ethereal and elusive producer Burial, Yorke decided to commission a remix project for the tracks from his solo album. Across three 12s, bass producers such as The Bug, Various Production, Surgeon, Modeselektor, Four Tet and Burial put their spin on Yorke’s tracks.
Thus began Thom Yorke’s tight relationship with the bass music scene. Among much collaboration, he leant vocals to the 2007 track ‘The White Flash’ by Modeselektor, sang on ‘…And The World Laughs With You’ from Flying Lotus’ 2010 LP Cosmogramma, and earlier this year released a 12 inch record with Four Tet and Burial. Yorke has often confessed his love in interviews of the Los Angeles-centred beat scene – home to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder collective and beat night Low End Theory, where Yorke has played a couple of surprise DJ sets.
The influence of all this can be felt somewhat in Radiohead’s latest album The King Of Limbs – an experiment in aesthetics and rhythm. Like The Eraser, Thom Yorke commissioned remixes of the new Radiohead album – the fruits of which will be released next month on TKOL RMX 1234567. Mark Pritchard (aka Harmonic 313), Illum Sphere, Jamie XX, SBTRKT and Caribou have turned in remixes alongside Yorke favourites Modeselektor and Four Tet. Many of these have been aired on Mary Anne Hobbs’ radio show on XFM. Hobbs has long been a fan of Radiohead and Thom Yorke – even more so when his path and that of the bass music underground started going the same way. Last week she featured a brand new DJ mix from Yorke on her show. The mix featured some of the TKOL remixes as well as new bits from Yorke himself and can be streamed on Mixcloud.
Dank Morass’ own Walrii the Walrus is currently in Great Britain spreading dank and splaying the blubber. Last Saturday, whilst in London he bumped heads with Gav, friend and founder of Jus Like Music Records which was behind the recent B. Lewis EP and the mighty Shankles Gully Foil EP.
Since April 2011, Gav along with Hip Hop producer BUG (check his latest EP, Mechanical Soul) have been running Jus Like Music show on London’s latest underground digital radio station, NTS which has been garnering much support through Europe in recent months. Featuring resident shows from badman DJ and artist Kutmah, psych-hop producer Bullion, forward-thinking steppers Dark Sky, CD-R sessions founder Tony Nwachukwu among many other notables, NTS has earned its title for being a solid source of quality music of all kinds.
Naturally, Walrii was chuffed to be asked to be a guest on the Jus Like Music show, a great opportunity he thought, to showcase the quality music that has been flowing from Brisbane and affiliated regions to UK and global listeners.
Come 5pm, Walrii and good friend and badass scratch DJ Alex Volume rocked up to Gillett Square in Dalston to meet Gav outside the NTS broadcast studio before the show started at 6pm. They found themselves at a tiny shack wedged in between a Jazz Club called Vortex and a North African Video store (containing a couple of dudes chilling, chewing Khat), not to mention an animated ping pong game taking place just outside the studio in the middle of the square, all to the sounds of the tasty UK Garage drifting from NTS.
After a brief catch up with Gav about beats and bobs (BUG was sick that day), 6pm came and it was time for the Jus Like Music show. The rest was history. Gav played some amazing exclusives from producers across the world in true JLM style and come 7pm Walrii stepped up to the decks… Walrii and Gav had a brief but positive chat on air at the end of the show about the Brisbane scene and with that done and dusted, it was time to trek across town to the renown theater venue, Koko’s in Camden for Daedalus, Kutmah, Hidden Orchestra and Luke Vibert…
Listen and download the whole show with tracklist HERE (check 17/09/2011 set) or download just the Walrii guest set and interview … Big ups to Gav, Jus Like Music and NTS for the linx.
This month in Subdetritus we look at the physical and psychological effect of music on people, specifically with regards to our good old friend – bass. Since the earliest day of sound system culture in Jamaica, there has existed a competitive strive towards having the biggest rig able to push out the maximum amount of bass. Sound systems are still judged on their ability to not only clearly represent all the frequencies of music to the ear, but also their ability for the music to be felt. To this end, quality sound systems are designed to emit frequencies well outside the range of frequencies that humans can hear. Above that range is known as ultrasound, and below the range is infrasound.
I distinctly remember my first visit to Fabric nightclub in London and that physical pressure in my chest and head from the bass during a Roni Size set in Room 2. While these kinds of systems are heaven to bass music lovers, the risk of permanent ear damage is very real and should be avoided with quality earplugs. Other symptoms of prolonged exposure to high volumes of low frequencies and infrasound can include disorientation, shortness of breath, anxiety and nausea.
Unsurprisingly, the physical and psychological effects of certain music and frequencies have been used by governments, military and police as sonic weapons. The use of sound to strike fear into enemies or prey has always occurred in nature by animals, and has long held a place in human conflict in the form of drums, trumpets, war cries and other taunts. During the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coalition forces reportedly blasted heavy metal from speakers mounted to vehicles in the battlefield and inmates at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay were allegedly exposed to extended, loud bouts of music from bands such as Metallica as a form of torture. Similar tactics were used by the US military against General Noriega in Panama and the Branch Davidians in Waco, and are also used to disperse crowds and deter teenagers from hanging around shopping malls afterhours. Sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease react negatively to wrong notes played in a familiar melody highlighting the effects of music deep in the subconscious.
Much research has been poured into sonic weaponry that goes a little deeper than the above examples. A great chunk of the research into the effects on the human body from infrasound was conducted by NASA in the early 1960s to discover what affect the low frequencies created by rockets would have on astronauts during launches. The most infamous effect on humans comes from the so-called ‘brown note’. The brown note is a theoretical infrasonic frequency between 5 to 9 Hz that would cause a person to lose control of their bowels and soil themselves. While the idea is frankly tremendous, little to no scientific evidence actually exists to support the theory, though many have tried – including popular TV show Mythbusters but alas to no avail. Other weaponry applications include sonic booms or ‘sound bombs’, focused beams of high intensity ultrasound that can cause lung and intestinal damage in mice, and Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) used to send instructions, warnings and deterrents to enemies over long distances.
If this field is of interest to you, I cannot recommend highly enough the book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear by Steve Goodman – better known to bass music fans as Kode9. Goodman’s book not only explores the application of sound and frequency in a military sense, but more broadly how acoustic forces affect populations in a political and social context by creating a “bad vibe”. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with his label Hyperdub will attest to his fascination with interplaying rhythmic patterns and disorientating discordant harmony. The result is music that instils a pervading sense of dread or unease, but unfortunately won’t make you shit your pants.
This month in Subdetritus we take a snapshot of where things are at in the world of bass music right now. While we are all huddling around heaters, it’s the height of the northern hemisphere’s summer and much of the scene’s big hitters are out on the road peddling their sounds at festivals and clubs the world over.
James Blake took on the Park Stage at Glastonbury last month to rave reviews fuelling anticipation of his imminent Australian tour. The electronic music Mecca that is Sonar Festival descended on Barcelona the week before Glastonbury with a bass line-up only dreams are made of. From many friends of mine who were there, it seemed there was almost too much good music to absorb. While the more pop-leaning bass acts like dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man, Katy B and Zinc reportedly sounded pretty dull and uninspired, there were astounding sets turned in by the likes of Aphex Twin, Downliners Sekt, Raime, Teebs, oOoOO, Buraka Som Sistema, Shackleton and Illum Sphere.
Radio queen and bass champion Mary Anne Hobbs played a 2:30am set to an estimated crowd of 15,000 people at Sonar and backed it up by a sunrise set to 20,000 at Benicassim Festival last weekend. Hobbs has a lot to be happy about at the moment with her much lauded return to radio two weeks ago on Xfm. While her BBC Radio 1 Experimental show (a favourite of this column for years) was in a mid-week timeslot in the wee hours of the morning, her new show on Xfm is a primetime 7-10pm slot on Saturdays. “This is such a victory,” Hobbs said in a press release. “Not just for me, but for all the artists I believe in and all the live listeners who care so deeply. My aim… to create some truly mind-blowing, redefining radio on Xfm.” Her first show featured guest mixes from Deep Medi Musik’s Silkie and LuckyMe’s Machinedrum, while last week featured mixes from Ninja Tune’s Daedelus and Planet Mu’s Falty DL. Highly recommended if you’re hungry for fresh underground bass music.
Speaking of which there have been plenty of new releases to heat up those speakers this winter. Zomby has just dropped his second album Dedication for indie label 4AD which builds on the woozy, synth-heavy Nintendo-step of his highly regarded early releases for labels like Hyperdub, Ramp and Werk. Zomby is an artist who has always operated outside of the status quo and while this album is relatively short, it contains so many great moments and ideas. The latest transmission from Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder collective is the proper debut album from Samiyam. While the LA-centric “wonky” hip hop sound is starting to sound tired in the hands of many, Sam Baker’s Album possesses a funk and fidgetiness that sounds more exciting than most of the woozy, bass-heavy Dilla knock-offs making the rounds. Following two self-released CDRs, recent visitor Pursuit Grooves has also released her debut album Frantically Hopeful. Interestingly released on the Bristol-based label Tectonic run by Pinch, the record is an eclectic listen still firmly rooted in future soul with a definite Dam-Funk vibe that flirts a little with pop music in a good way. Other hotly anticipated bass music releases on the horizon include the new full-length from Ras G on Ramp and the new EP from Scotland’s Hudson Mohawke on Warp Records.
On the Brisbane tip, it would be remiss of me not to mention local duo Science Project who seem unstoppable at the moment with upcoming shows in Melbourne and a support slot for Los Angeles-based Nosaj Thing this week. Their deep love of dub and reggae has been the focus of a couple of beat tapes that are available on their Bandcamp page – one a tribute to Bob Marley and the other to Osbourne Ruddock (a.k.a. King Tubby). The beat tapes feature versions by the boys themselves and locals such as Erther, Syntax, Walrii and Puzahki.
Electronic music purveyors have long recognised that watching someone on a dark stage twiddling knobs or mixing records isn’t the most thrilling concert-going experience visually. Over the years electronic acts have deployed light shows, lasers and projected visuals to accompany and compliment the music in a live setting. This month in Subdetritus we look at bass music’s dichotomous relationship with live visual stimulus and it’s relationship with multimedia art at large.
From the earliest days of rave culture back in the late-eighties, parties were something of a visual spectacle – ravers dressed in fluorescent colours, warehouse spaces decked-out in UV décor, strobes, lasers and all manner of mind-altering lighting displays. This wasn’t necessarily the blueprint that all electronic music parties followed in subsequent years, particularly bass and sound system culture. Many drum’n’bass and dubstep parties were, and continue to be, very conscious of a certain “hoods up, heads down” mentality towards the music and how it should be enjoyed in a live setting. One of the most famous of the original dubstep parties – Mala, Loefah and Coki’s mighty DMZ night in Brixton – would pride itself on being no more than a dark room with one sparse blue light and the mother of all sound systems. No flashy visuals or strobe lights, just: “Come meditate on bass weight”.
This has been a staple of many bass gigs around the globe: spare no expense on the sound system and the rest should be simple and raw. It’s a cry back to original Jamaican sound systems and a statement that the music itself should be the primary focus. It was an ethos that one-time smoked-out jazzy junglist turned innovative sound artist Amon Tobin employed on his 2007 tour of Europe supporting his album The Foley Room. “Fuck visuals,” he was famously quoted as saying. “We’re sinking every last penny into the sound system!” And from all accounts he wasn’t fronting – the music was loud, bass-heavy, crystal clear, in your face and inescapable. Fast forward to the last few weeks, and Amon Tobin has just kicked off his latest tour in support of brand new album Isam. The album itself has received mixed reviews as Tobin continues to push his challenging sound manipulations into new and less familiar territory, but in an interesting flip, the live show he has assembled for this record could go down in history as one of the most unique multimedia performances of our time.
The first show of the tour was in Montreal on June 1st and is currently being staged in select cities across Europe. Videos have since been uploaded to www.amontobin.com of the performance and its design, and scores more have surfaced from fans on YouTube. Described in a press release as featuring a “stunning 25′ x 14′ x 8′ multi-dimensional/ shape shifting 3-D art installation surrounding Tobin and enveloping him and the audience in a beyond 3-D experience”, the footage has to be seen to be believed. The marriage of his dense electronic compositions with such a jaw-dropping visual accompaniment is light years ahead of its time and makes his contemporaries who seek to offset the visual boredom of DJ sets by wearing giant mouse heads look frankly ridiculous. On top of all of this, Tobin teamed up with respected artist Tessa Farmer whose unique visual style based on reconstructions of organic material has been the centerpiece of an art installation that has been on display in galleries in London and Paris to coincide with the launch of the album.
Flying Lotus is another that has been pushing the visual element harder than most in terms of cover art, live performances, interactive web applications and film clips. There are plenty of others in bass music who are embracing other media in an attempt to compliment and enhance the sensory experience of their music, including crews here in Brisbane. The future looks bright and flashy in the murky world of bass.
Recently DM has had the pleasure of coming across a new forward thinking Brisbane collective called Silo. It is great to see other like-minded people coming out of the woodworks with their own multi-media force…
Silo is a Brisbane based collective of music producers, beatsmiths, and visual artists.
Silo is dedicated to promoting electronic music around Brisbane, and helping to build the local scene. It is designed to give lesser known electronic artists (local, interstate, or international) a space to perform to people who appreciate their work.
Already, Silo boasts a stable of eclectic artists producing forward thinking electronic music of various persuasions. Their blog is also a great source for the latest in music and news. Be sure to have a look and listen.
Watch this space for upcoming gigs and collaborations between Silo and Dank Morass!
Check out the Walrus’ own squid and chips recipe @ good friends food and art blog/cookbook, The Bookery Cook. There is also a new walrus mix included to accompany the cooking process! Read and listen HERE.
For the past month, weekly beat sessions have been held in Brisbane, where local beat heads (of all kinds) meet to show their latest work, collaborate and jam. Each week a different musical challenge is set for the following week. Local, national and international heads are encouraged to get involved in these challenges.
Check the Brisbane Beat Sessions page for some examples of the music that is being created. If you are a local or international beat maker or musician who wants more info, hit us up @ email@example.com. Watch this space…