Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The month in bass

As I’ve said before, it’s been something of a vintage month for new material in the bass music sphere. Having been pretty overloaded for the last week or so, here’s a round up of some of the latest developments that have infiltrated my consciousness in the last few days.

Ms. Dynamite, Sticky & Geeneus

This week, a high quality wav download of Ms. Dynamite’s new(ish) tune with Sticky, ‘Bad Gyal’, has surfaced. And as if that wasn’t good enough, the download also includes their original collaboration, ‘Booo’, which is sounding even better a few years down the line. It’s rare to hear sub-bass as all-encompassing as this, even within reach of the none-more-deep climes of the dubstep world. Check it here.

Geeneus’ recent work with her is even better.
‘Get Low’ sent shockwaves through FWD>> when he dropped it a few weeks ago; Dynamite sounds more ferocious than ever, spitting in furious patois over Geeneus’ twisting house beat. There’s even a cowbell, in what seems like its first appearance since around 2005.


On their May show on Rinse, Dusk & Blackdown premiered a new Untold track, ‘Stop What You’re Doing’. One of the most aptly titled pieces of music I’ve heard in ages and an almost seamless follow up to recent Hessle Audio release ‘Anaconda’, with its slithering bass and spacious dancefloor-wrecking minimalism, the drop hard-jacks directly into the nervous system, seizing the attention even as it fizzes, fitfully jerking back and forth. In interviews he has described his primary influence as the polyrhythmic intricacy
of jungle, the way several layers of percussion overlap at once to create a disorienting, dizzying whirl; over the course of the last few months this influence has become increasingly evident in his own productions even as they become ever more distant from easy genre characterization.

Following on from recent 12”s on Hotflush and Hessle Audio his latest EP, Gonna Work Out Fine, will be released in the autumn on his own label, Hemlock. The tracklist looks like this:

Stop what you're doing

No one likes a smart-arse

Never went away
Don't know, don't care

Gonna work out fine

+ One more to be confirmed

The snippets of tracks from Gonna Work Out Fine, up on his MySpace, are suggestive of a drawing together of jungle’s perpetual motion with the tightly coiled, muscular aggression of grime and the restless forward propulsion of his earlier work; a taut, twitchy hybrid that fuses all these elements yet manages to sound like absolutely nothing else. Judging by the current trajectory of his increasingly prolific output, Untold – alongside his contemporaries on Hessle Audio and Hemlock – is rapidly drawing together, revitalizing and reinventing all the disparate strands of post-garage bass music. If his recent FACT mix and killer set at FWD>> are anything to go by, this new EP is going to be a monster.

Rinse Is 15!

Even for a relative newcomer to the scene, the importance of FWD>> and Rinse as bastions of innovation and exposure for forward-thinking new sounds is obvious and indisputable. Putting aside for a moment its massive impact upon the growth of the dubstep and grime scenes, the programming on Rinse (and Geeneus’ own productions) has nurtured and pre-empted the current emergence of funky into mainstream consciousness, which can only be a good thing. The feedback of its flow and more sensual elements back into the increasingly rigid canon of dubstep is producing some incredibly exciting music - from Rinse affiliates like Brackles and Oneman to artists like TRG,
who has been making recent forays into house tempo.

Anyway, to celebrate Rinse FM’s fifteenth birthday this month and by way of promotion for the incredible-looking FWD>> vs. Rinse party at Matter on Friday, they’ve been giving away an exclusive track a day for fifteen days.

First off there was the VIP mix of Geeneus’ genre-defining ‘Yellowtail’, which extends and ups the ante of the original mix with snaking African percussion flitting between its distinctive synth stabs. On top of that, Zinc manages to fit a sneaky double entendre into the title of the punishing ‘All Your Base’ and Scratcha DVA’s ‘Kill All A’ Dem VIP’ wields frankly terrifying, fuzzed out bass, spattered freely over a lurching half-step beat while a funeral march drones in the background. The robotic bass jabs and panic alarm motif of ‘Calous’ are classic Skream, even if the tune doesn’t quite sit up there with his most recent release on Tectonic, ‘Trapped In A Dark Bubble’.

In the end, it’s worth a look even just for the ‘Yellowtail VIP’,
which manages to pull off the difficult trick of being even better than the already staggering original.

Pearson Sound – PLSN/WAD (Hessle Audio)

Right now, David Kennedy is rivaling Skream in terms of sheer productivity – quite aside from the wealth of releases this year under his Ramadanman alias (tunes on Apple Pips, 2nd Drop, Soul Jazz, Aus Music and a whole host of remixes), PLSN/WAD is his second 12” under the Pearson Sound moniker this month, following on from his spacious Gambetta/So Far Ago on Soul Jazz. What is so impressive here is how rapidly his work as Pearson Sound has become so
distinguishable – emphasizing a looseness and playfulness less obvious in his productions as Ramadanman.

Right now, Hessle Audio can do no wrong – its four main contributors have steadily become major players in the dubstep scene since its inception, and every release has been absolutely essential; HES009 is no exception. 'PLSN' is not a million miles away from his recent collaboration with Appleblim, Justify, driven by rolling, brittle percussion and sheets of techy noise which gradually disintegrate to nothingness before the briefest of melodies surfaces. 'WAD' by contrast is an exploration into funky territory, pivoting around a chopped and sliced vocal motif, and seems to have been appearing in sets and mixes from pretty much everyone in the last few months.

FaltyDL – Love Is A Liability (Planet Mu)

Though FaltyDL’s debut album admittedly came out a while ago, I finally got round to getting hold of it last week and it’s worth more than the cursory mention I’m going to give to it here. It’s a fitting summer record - despite the typically British disappearance of anything so much as resembling summer weather in mid-July – his spacious garage beats are lent a wonderful warmth by the emergence of ethereal, constantly morphing melodies. On album highlight ‘To New York’ these fractal patterns coil around and between one another, shifting back and forth as if built entirely from half-remembered snippets of early Warp bleep-and-bass and the woozy ambience of Amber-era Autechre.

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