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.
This month in Subdetritus we take a look at an influx of amazing, long-awaited releases from the world of bass music that are hitting record stores and headphones at the moment. I can’t remember a time in recent years where there has been this much good music stirred into the cosmic soup all at once. Pens and wallets at the ready…
The big one that has just been unleashed is the brand new full-length album from the head of Hyperdub himself – Kode9 & The Spaceape’s Black Sun. A lot has changed in bass music since their first collaborative album dropped back in 2006, but Kode9 is still hailed as a visionary leader of the movement. The album holds all the ominous might and menace you’d expect from this pair but the beats are teased out in slightly different directions. The collaboration with Flying Lotus is as killer as it should be.
Another Hyperdub legend recently gave a rare treat – new music from the elusive and iconic Burial. The three-track EP Street Halo holds its own after an agonizing four year wait for fans on any new solo material from his hallowed studio. It comes straight off the back of his stunning collaboration with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Four Tet. Speaking of Radiohead, there are very serious rumours of a remix project of tracks from their incredible The King of Limbs album. Thom Yorke has made no secret of his love affair with the new vanguard of bass producers having previously collaborated with Flying Lotus and recently spinning a surprise DJ set at Gaslamp Killer’s night Low End Theory. Names being mentioned as possible remixers for Radiohead include bass wizards Mark Pritchard and Illum Sphere. Watch this space for more news on this exciting project.
Other amazing albums with a drum’n’bass slant that are shaking up the detritus right now include the eagerly anticipated Instra:mental album Resolution 653 on Nonplus and d’n’b-heads-turned-steppers Kryptic Minds with their third album Can’t Sleep. Dutch producer 2562 has also lifted the lid on his third full-length Fever which heads in a decidedly more housey direction.
The king of them all right now for this bass head though has to be the brand new album from Mr. Amon Tobin. Entitled Isam, this record builds on the dense compositions, moody sound design and disorientating rhythms of 2007’s Foley Room with a more urgent and harsh electronic edge to it. Head to his website here for a free download from this amazing record and details of an incredible art installation to celebrate it’s launch. Also, be sure to check a full track-by-track commentary of the album by the man himself on his Soundcloud. It’s a good time to be alive!
Believe the Morass is excited to be in the mix for this one! Tickets are on sale now for this landmark night – three amazing artists at the very top of the game for only $10+bf! It doesn’t get any better value than this, so grab your tickets from the OzTix website or your nearest OzTix outlet now.
Continuing its mission to bring together the best cutting edge electronic musicians in the world, the Red Bull Music Academy is mounting a triple-header tour that will bring a bass heavy three-pronged assault from Martyn, Illum Sphere and TOKiMONSTA to Brisbane’s The Family nightclub on Saturday September 18.
Each year since 1998, the Red Bull Music Academy has invited a class of 60 carefully selected beat heads from around the world to attend an intensive term of workshops with the leading exponents of electronic music. And each year, attendees and lecturers from previous terms travel the world to spread the RBMA gospel and share the music created and fostered at the Academy. The 2010 RBMA On The Floor tour brings the absolute bleeding edge of modern bass music to Brisbane’s best sound system for the first time ever.
Martyn is the senior artist of the trio. Steeped in a dubstep sound informed by a complex amalgam of techno, house, hip hop and drum and bass, it’s no surprise that the Dutch DJ, producer and label boss was drafted to mix the landmark 50th entry in Fabric London’s esteemed mix series. Check this haunting video inspired by his Great Lengths album and featuring Martyn himself.
TOKiMONSTA is the first lady of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder crew. With her standout performance at Barcelona’s Sonar 2010 festival, the fresh Midnight Menu LP on Art Union and a brand new intercontinental collaborative 10” with London maverick Blue Daisy, TOKiMONSTA has staked her claim as one of the most exciting producers of music today.
Young producer Illum Sphere exploded out of Manchester off the back of his EP “The Incoming” and his club night Hoya:Hoya. Championed by Thom Yorke, Mary-Anne Hobbs and the Brainfeeder crew, he is only the second English performer (after Mary-Anne) to be invited to play LA’s pivotal Low End Theory night.
Bringing the local heat to Family’s high pressure sound system are some of Brisbane’s brightest producers. Elroy 4.0 scored a position on the second Oscillations compilation released by Jus Like Music, alongside international heatmakers Slugabed, Alex B and 8Bitch.
As a DJ, Erther was a lynchpin of the long-running Brisbane junglist institution Rudebwoyz, but he also peddles a mean line in menacing production. He’s blessed more than one Morass party to devastating effect in the past, and we’re stoked to have him back.
Dubstep duo Science Project have incinerated dancefloors with their dubwise bangers, and the release of their debut EP Alchemystic has positioned them as one of Australia’s most promising bass groups.
Red Bull Music Academy On The Floor with Martyn, Illum Sphere & TokiMonsta
Date: 9pm to 5am, Saturday 18 September
Location: The Family [Top Floor], 8 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley
Support acts: Elroy 4.0, Science Project, Erther, Dank Morass
Cost: $15 on the door, $10+bf through OzTix