A-Z of Music: Bass
By Cosmo MacKenzie • 10 months Ago
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By Cosmo MacKenzie • 10 months Ago
Bass music is a huge umbrella term for many different styles of urban and electronic dance music these days and under this umbrella you can find dubstep, UK funky, 4×4 garage, dancehall, footwork, trap, moombahton and kwaito amongst others. Bass music’s origins are largely associated with dubstep, and the term ‘bass music’ was created when producers and artists who were being labelled with the dubstep term no longer wanted to be associated with it. The whole thing is still open to debate and can change depending on who you are talking to, and this is what makes it so interesting.
“Burial’s second album ‘Untrue’ went on to receive numerous accolades including a Mercury Prize nomination in 2008”
Mysterious producer Burial released his second album ‘Untrue’ on 5 November 2007 via esteemed UK record label Hyperdub. The album went on to receive numerous accolades, such as Resident Advisor’s third best album of the decade, number one in Fact Magazine’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade and a Mercury Prize nomination in 2008.
‘Untrue’ signified a development in Burial’s sound, as it employed pitch-shifted and time-stretched vocal samples in a lot of the tracks on the album, when previously the producer had not really used vocals in his music. Slowed down vocals now feature heavily a lot in bass music, and Burial arguably was one of the first to use this technique extensively in dubstep.
Hotflush Recordings founder Scuba, real name Paul Rose, put this stellar mix together for Berlin imprint !K7 Records’ legendary ‘DJ-Kicks’ series on 17 October 2011. A longstanding and well-respected DJ in his own right, Rose began by making dubstep in around 2007 and then moved into house and techno after forming close links with the established Berghain nightclub when he made the move to Berlin.
His ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix shows the true enormity of bass music as a whole, and joins the dots between dubstep, bass, house, techno and garage. Rose also demonstrates his ability to pick up cutting edge music, as the tracklist features the likes of George FitzGerald, dBridge, Trevino and Marcel Dettman.
A veteran of New York’s electronic scene, Machinedrum released his multifaceted ‘Room(s)’ in 2011. Machinedrum, aka American producer Travis Stewart, leans more toward the footwork and drum and bass persuasion with this album in comparison to some of the other producers in this article, but nonetheless he is still intrinsically linked to the world of bass through his use of frenetic rhythms, piano house and dancehall inclinations.
‘Room(s)’ is almost cinematic in its production, as some of the songs even resemble bass ballads, and of the other albums is closest to Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’ due to its maximalist tendencies. Words can only go so far in describing ‘Room(s)’, you really need to listen to it for yourself to get the full picture.
Scottish producer Rustie is in the same class as his fellow countryman Hudson Mohawke and released his debut album ‘Glass Swords’ on 10 October 2011. Rustie has become associated with the creation of the subgenre of aquacrunk, which is an experimental take on hip-hop. It features low-slung beats, electronic phrasing and deviating basslines and is evocative of the different routes bass music can take. Rustie can definitely be described as a maximalist producer, and often in his productions there are a lot of different things going on which means his records sound like nothing else out there at the moment. Flagship single ‘After Light’ took off after a rework that featured vocals from AlunaGeorge, receiving comprehensive Radio 1 airplay and it was used in an Adidas television advertisement ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
“Footwork falls into the bass category and takes a lot of inspiration from hip-hop in its use of vocal samples, snares and hi-hats. ”
SBTRKT, aka Aaron Jerome, released his debut self-titled album via Young Turks on June 27 2011. The album marked a new, more accessible avenue into the bass music scene through a masterpiece by Jerome that transcends several different genres including electronic, dubstep, breakbeat, house, soul and UK funky.
With the help of long-time collaborator Sampha on vocal duties, SBTRKT managed to carve out a brilliant album that represents a halfway house between the bass music and pop worlds. ‘Ready Set Loop’, ‘Wildfire’ (featuring Little Dragon), ‘Pharaohs’ and ‘Hold On’ were all released as singles and are essential listening from a producer that needs to be kept a close eye on.
Once again revered record label Hyperdub pops up, and this time it’s the turn of London trio LV who released ‘Sebenza’, which was their second album, in August 2012. The album sits somewhere between UK funky and kwaito (South African house music), and employs the skills of Johannesburg rapper and producer Okmalumkoolkat extensively. The inclusion of a South African MC makes this record sound like something you have never heard before immediately.
The album also veers towards garage in tracks like ‘Ultando Lwaka’ and possesses some seriously funky grooves within it. ‘Sebenza’ feels more like collaboration between the producers and the rappers, and this gives it a more organic feel to some of the other albums in this list.
From veterans to newcomers, Young Smoke is the production alias of 18 year-old Chicago footwork producer David Davis. Davis produces footwork that experiments with synth-heavy, techno-influenced sounds, and for a person so young is a very impressive debut effort after only having a couple of tracks put out on Planet Mu’s 2011 ‘Bangs & Works Vol. 2’ compilation.
Footwork again falls into the bass category and takes a lot of inspiration from hip-hop in its use of vocal samples, snares and hi-hats. ‘Space Zone’ was released on 24 September 2012, and it is refreshing because it focuses on and is preoccupied with the themes of outer space and science fiction.
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