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.
BTS began as a California State Fullerton University Campus radio show that first premiered on October 7, 2003, the same day Jaylib’s “Champion Sound” LP was released by Stones Throw. In tribute, the founder, LA native Andrew Meza played a two-hour set of only Madlib and J Dilla and set the stage for the next four years of groundbreaking, weekly free-form programming…
…In late 2005, I had been exploring early beat artists through Myspace, such as Eric Lau, Ras G, Dr. Who Dat?, Samiyam, Hudson Mohawke, Jackhigh, Kutmah and other unsigned cats and cliques from LA (Poo-bah), Glasgow (LuckyMe), Amsterdam (Beat Dimensions) and Barcelona (Soul Sociedad).
Soon after this world of beats began to open up for me, I first came across BTS radio in early 2006 and it was a revelation.
It was exactly the forward thinking Hip Hop music I (and soon to be the world) was waiting for. Each week, the show referenced the roots of the beat movement and gave a lot of love to local LA producers/MCs as well as more far-reaching underground sounds from around the globe. Each Wednesday night was the highlight of my week when an hour-long mix was uploaded for a 320Kbps download on the original BTS website.
BTS is your favourite radio Dj’s favourite radio station, however has never received the exposure it deserved. After having a 1 year hiatus in 2008 during which Meza was finishing his film degree, BTS was reinstated with a bang in 2009. A brand new website, archiving the remarkable mixes of the shows history and showcasing the long running art director, Charles Munka aka Ques‘ incinderary free-form artwork, the perfect companion to BTS and its deeply imbued ethos.
I thank Andrew Meza for BTS Radio and his relentless decication to professional, soulful and progressive radio that first broke music of the beat movement to the wider LA community and the world.
P.S. Checkout this personal favourite of mine from the BTS back catalogue of guest mixes.
Orginally aired 13/02/07
Jan Jelinek – Happening Tone (~scape)
Strand + Tres – Compact & Disperse (Pulpa)
Audrey 3000 – Baby I Got Your Money (CDR)
Izu – North Star (Konx-Om-Pax Remix) (Highpoint Lowlife)
Kaspar vs. Jakzen – Why Deny (Toga Party Mweslee Remix) (CDR)
Pilooski – Girlz (Astro Lab Recordings)
Beem – Ducker (CDR)
Rustie – Clipper (CDR)
Point B – Figure (SCSI)
Pede Rast – Jesus Wept (CDR)
Kelpe – Petrified (D.C. Recordings)
Bitstream – Decontamination Room (Modern Love)
Lukid – The Now (CDR)
Hudson Mohawke – Free Mo (CDR)
Mike Slott – Just Messin (CDR)
Berghem – 2512 (CDR)
Sir Samplot – Turn It Up (CDR)
The Unknown – Was Is (Track 29) (CDR)
Pete Philly & Perquisite – Mellow (Spacek Remix Instrumental) (Unexpected)
The Unknown – Tomorrows Yesterday (Track 14) (CDR)
Mesak – Popkumm (CDR)
Snowman & The Jack Sample Bros. – I Need U (CDR)
Hudson Mohawke – Asswank (CDR)
Hudson Mohawke – Samoa (CDR)
Hudson Mohawke – ZooOOom (CDR)
G. Frequency Feat. Tableek – No Control (Hudson Mo Refixx) (CDR)
The second decade of the new millennium opens with a bass-heavy deep impact when three of the most acclaimed artists in modern electronic music play Brisbane’s historic theatre venue The Tivoli on Sunday January 2.
*** Click each artist’s photo for a downloadable mix ***
Flying Lotusreturns to Brisbane for the first time in two years, and for his first show here since the release of his explosively epic album Cosmogrammaon Warp Records. Bringing a frenetic live audiovisual performance, Steve Ellison will show why he has ascended to the upper echelons of the global electronica movement. With Cosmogramma receiving universal praise for its psychedelic jazz beat tapestries featuring Lotus’ admirer Thom Yorke and his cousin Ravi Coltrane among others), this artist embodies the best of experimental electronica packed into a tight, danceable package. Ellison brings the special visual element of his show to Australia for the first time.
Lotus’ right hand man in the LA-based Brainfeeder clique and one of the minds behind legendary LA weekly club night Low End Theory, William Bensussen, aka The Gaslamp Killer receives praise as one of the best DJs in the world, with his relentless recombinations of psychedelic rock, dusty breaks and heavy dubstep. A producer, as well as a DJ, he has released two EPs on Brainfeeder and produced haunting vocalist Gonjasufi’s debut LP A Sufi and A Killer(Warp Records). Having already laid waste to Brisbane’s Step Inn in March this year, The Gaslamp Killer returns to Brisbane to again prove his lofty credentials.
Young Glaswegian Ross Birchard, aka Hudson Mohawkeis a former child turntable prodigy who turned his talents to blindingly fluorescent synth-lines combined with organic drum programming and a million ideas a minute. A core member of the Glasgow-to-global collective LuckyMe, he is one of the new generation of artists signed to pioneering UK label Warp. With numerous EPs, beats and remixes already under his belt, his debut LP Butterwas a technicolour sonic flash bomb that The Guardian compared to “eavesdropping on the future”.
In support, Dank Morass DJs will serve up a heady brew of diverse music, including the debut of original beats from Walrii and live visual manipulation from Archi Lancasterand ATLASt.