Monday, March 28, 2016

On newsstands now is the April issue of The Wire, which features an essay-review by me about
Kanye West and The Life of Pablo.



Sample source (or one of them) for probably the best track on the record:



Sample source (or one of them) for another good 'un:

Friday, March 25, 2016

puirt-a-beul










"'Mouth music' is known by many different names: cheek music, chin music, lilting, diddling, gobbing, reel ˆ bouche, port-a-beul. It is built on favorite old melodies and rhythms and used for making music -- for dancing -- when there are no instruments to play. They are not songs but instrumental tunes whose lyrics power the rhythm.It can be found in various forms throughout the world, but it is highly developed among the Gaels. It became part of the musical baggage of Scottish and Irish emigrants and traveled with them to Nova Scotia and down into the southern Appalachians. The term "mouth music" is likely to be a translation of the Scots-Gaelic "port-a-beul" ("tunes from the mouth"). It is sometimes sung with sparse instrumental accompaniment (bones, bells, drums) but is mostly unaccompanied. It was used as dance music and to make work lighter. Lilting is part of a larger tradition in Ireland, called "sŽan nos" or "old style." It emphasizes subtle ornamentation and embellishment in song" - from Rambles, a cultural arts magazine

Human beat box, basically.

So "Buffalo Gals" - Appalachian square-dance caller meets Bronx MCing - was really onto something.



musique de bouche #4

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

musique de bouche #3 ("because personally I'm more of Savouret's man")



musique de bouche #2





musique de bouche



Colette Magny - André Almuro - Buraburabura (French Experimental Hiroshima 1967)



Il s'agit d'une compo réalisée autour d'un texte de Jean Genet, dit par Mouloudji à la radio en 1952, texte qui était lui-même accompagné d'une bande son electro-acoustique réalisée par André Almuro (Groupe de Recherches Musicales -- GRM) en 1952.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hauntology Parish Newsletter - March 2016 - eMMplekz; Mark Leckey; Hintermass; The Quietened Village; Auscultation

Freshly seeped, the latest batch of sour silage from eMMplekz Rook to TN34.

Their best yet, I reckon.

And my favourite album of the year so far.

Danktronica by Ekoplekz aka Nick Edwards; rhythmatised verbals from Mordant Music aka Baron Mordant aka Ian Hicks... sordid pyscho-surreal effluent bubbling up from the UKid of the 2010s.



Choice matter from the platter -





My personal fave -  "Gloomy Leper Techno" a/k/a "Cheers Mate Bye" - ODTS for the ears.



It's a gas gas gas gas


Cheers mate, buy


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New album from artist Mark Leckey, the "follow up" to his Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore OST (which I described as "a remarkable piece of sound art in its own right")
 - Dream English Kid 1964-1999 AD, on The Death of Rave label

DoR press release:


The Death of Rave are dead chuffed to present the OST for Mark Leckey’s autobiographical film installation, Dream English Kid 1964-1999AD, arriving nearly four years since the Turner Prize winning artist booted off the label with his much-loved and inspirational Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore soundtrack - which was subsequently parsed by IVVVO on Mark Leckey Made Me Hardcore, and also provided a sampled backbone to Jamie xx’s In Colour LP.
In Leckey’s own words: “Dream English Kid began when I found on YouTube an audio recording of Joy Division playing at a small club in Liverpool. A gig I’d been present at but could barely remember. As I listened I wondered if, through enhancing the audio, I could actually find my fifteen-year-old self in the recording. That led me to think would it be possible; at this point, with so much imagery available in the digital archives, to reconstruct my memoirs through all the DVD re-releases, eBay ephemera, YouTube uploads and above all the resource of the internet itself; the way it can actualize half-forgotten memories and produce a niche for seemingly every remembrance.”
Twice as long as Fiorucci… (1999) and cleft over two sides of wax, the film Dream English Kid 1964-1999AD and its soundtrack expand on its conceptual precedent by dilating its focus from late ‘80s casual and ‘90s rave culture to reflect and refract Leckey’s 35 years on earth before he became a mainstream, world-renowned artist.
Over seven parts, he employs the ubiquitous filters of contemporary culture, the internet and editing software, to traverse a timeline reaching from his birth in ’64 - against a backdrop of The Beatles and astronauts landing on the moon - to end up in the pre-millenial, pre-digital tension of ’99, signified by news reports and licks of Azzido Da Bass’ Doom’s Night, before spiralling into a reverse edited blur.
What occurs between those points forms a mixtape-like reverie of half-cut memories and abstracted, e-motif flashbacks gelled together by swooping, plasmic subs, smoke-clogged filters and uncannily psychoacoustic detail that really comes to life in headphones or with proper amplification. 
In case you haven’t already witnessed the film installation, we really don’t want to spoil the surprise any further: but trust that the coming-of-age passage is memorably affective, and his coverage of the post-punk and rave epochs - particularly the MC chatting license plate numbers - are expectedly choice. 
Referring to the original sense of the term, nostalgia-as-illness, the piece has a deeply miasmic, febrile sensuality, which, when separated from the visual content, provides an oneiric side-effect all of its own, one which pays testament to the most subtle, psychedelic aspects of Leckey’s genius and broad appeal. 
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Out today on the Ghost Box label is a lovely LP by Hintermass  (aka Jon Brooks + Tim Felton) entitled The Apple Tree.



the title track

Blurb from the Ghost Box site, where you may purchase the album:

THE GROUP: The Apple Tree is the first LP from Hintermass following their Study Series single for Ghost Box in 2011. The duo comprises Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) and Tim Felton (formerly of Broadcast and Seeland).
Both are multi instrumentalists, lending the album its rich texture of electronics, guitar, keyboards, percussion and exotic acoustic instrumentation. The sound is completed by Felton’s rich, warm vocals and Brook’s immaculate production.
SOUND: The Apple Tree is primarily a pop album; mannered and serene with strong electronic and folk sensibilities. This is balanced by expertly handled abstract sketches and instrumental pieces.
INFLUENCES: Both artists cite the kosmiche music of Ash-ra and Popul Vuh and their simultaneous re- discovery of the music of Nico as strong influences on the album. The songs also have clear roots in both traditional and psychedelic folk.
ALBUM: The CD and LP come lavishly packaged with artwork by JulianHouse. The heavyweight vinyl LP comes with a free download code.
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Coming next month via the auspices of the A Year in the Country project: The Quietened Village, featuring contributions from HowlroundTime Attendant, and other parishioners. 
Press release: 
"The Quietened Village is a study of and reflection on the lost, disappeared and once were homes and hamlets that have wandered off the maps or that have become shells of their former lives and times.
"The album travels from quietly unsettling electronica and tape manipulation via exploratory folk tales and far distant soundscapes; featuring contributions by Howlround, The Rowan Amber Mill (The Book Of The Lost), Cosmic Neigbourhood, Sproatly Smith, The Straw Bear Band (The Owl Service/Rif Mountain), The Soulless Party (Tales From The Black Meadow), Time Attendant, Polypores, A Year In The Country, David Colohan and Richard Moult (both of United Bible Studies).

"Inspired in part by images of sections of abandoned, submerged villages and the spires of their places of worship re-appearing from the surfaces of reservoirs and lakes, alongside thoughts of dwellings that have succumbed to the natural erosion of the coastline and have slowly tumbled into the sea.

"Some of the once were and lost villages which were seedlings for this body of work still stand but their populations are no more, those who lived there evicted at short notice and never to return so that their homes and hearths could be used as training grounds for those who would fight during great conflicts between nations.

"Such points of reference have been intertwined with possibly more bodeful reasons for this stilling and ending; thoughts of Midwich Cuckoos-esque fictions or dystopic tales told and transmitted in times gone by and imagined/re-imagined in amongst the strands of The Quietened Village.

"The album is released as part of the A Year In The Country project - a set of year long journeys through and searching for an expression of an underlying unsettledness to the English bucolic countryside dream; an exploration of an otherly pastoralism, the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edgelands.

"It is sent out into the world in two different hand-crafted Night and Dawn editions, produced using archival giclée pigment inks; presenting and encasing their journey in amongst tinderboxes, string bound booklets and accompanying ephemera."


Beg pardon, what is giclée when it's at home?


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And finally a lovely track by Auscultation - "haunted house", a literally elegaic ambient-dance piece inspired by a personal loss. From late last year release on the 100% Silk label. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bass Bits Finale - Lifetime Low-End Achievement Awards + A Valedictory Barrage of Bits




Lifetime Achievement Award #1


All praise to mighty Jah



Wobble, that is...




Eternal...




How many times did I play this next one in the big bedroom at 113 Bridgewater Road?  Wobble singing here as well as funking it  up with that great elasticated B-line. My DiscoFunk conversion, probably (unless it was another Lifetime Award recipient further down, which it probably was now I think of it). "Fodderstompf" certainly propelled me faster down that track at any rate, the path to "One Nation Under A Groove," "Shake Your Body", "Funkin' for Jamaica"




He's the soul-glue and sound-foundation of Metal Box - but which to pick? 

This might be PiL's greatest track - and one of Wobble's toughest B-lines.




Wobble was the reason for my briefly-entertained dream of learning to play the bass.

And he came over like a good guy in the music press profiles, like the approachable, sensitive one in PiL..  the member with the library card.

So I bought the solo album (but had no idea then how many solo singles and bits and bobs he had done).  "Betrayal", the single, has this wonderfully lanky, lurching bassline, like someone a few drinks worse for wear, staggering down the High Street after the extensive drowning of romantic sorrows in the pub... vengeful thoughts flailing in the brain.




Great guitar too.


The Legend Lives On... is overall a bit goofy - too much wacky-ing about at the mixing board - but this is one of the good tunes.




I confess I never checked out The Human Condition, his post-PiL group with Jim Walker, the first and perhaps best of PiL's many fine drummers. Nor do I recall being aware at the time of the things he did with Czukay and Liebezeit in the early 80s. So the next time I really noticed what Wobble was up to was Invaders of the Heart (here's my interview with him from around then) and of course this colossal B-line.




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Lifetime Achievement Award #2 goes to - 


Herbie Flowers



The Glam Era's Supreme Bass-for-Hire

Shan't bother with "Walk on the Wild Side" (fine as Herb's line is) but then there's this - one of the most radical singles of the early Seventies.




Everybody knows "Rock On". But how about this awesome performance?  (Hat's off to everyone really - the drummer and  the percussionist, the guitarist,  the backing chicks... Jeff Wayne obviously, not forgetting Mr Stardust himself)



Flowers was also responsible for the astounding basswork on this track. Check especially the bit here (from about 4.40) where the bass sort of divebombs and disintegrates in mid-air, before re-cohering into the mighty main pulse



Again, hats's off to everyone in that session - yet another example of how really hard it is to excel in rock unless everybody else in the band is cooking. One of the most exciting pieces of music from the entire rock era - and I wonder if I'd ever have heard it if not for Goodfellas. "Jump Into the Fire" is not exactly on the radio often, or ever, despite being a middling hit at the time.

Flowers also played on this, of course:




It's not all gold, though, the Flowers discography. There's a solo album, or two, and there's this, which he co-wrote with Kenny Pickett for Clive Dunn






Last little toke of Herb... He played with Bolan in his twilight-or-would-it-have-been-a-comeback-ifn't-he'd-croaked  (we'll never know) phase. This tune is terrific (although the bass is merely solid). Actually I'm not sure if he even played on the record, but by the time of this Top of the Pops appearance, Steve Currie was gone and Flowers was in, and he was in the group that backed Bolan for the Marc TV series.








Lifetime Achievement Award #3

John Entwhistle

Actually I don't have particular special feelings towards Thunderfingers - and feel ambivalent about the Who as a whole (terrific start, wobbly middle, dismal never-ending end-phase).

But what he does on this early effort was both groundbreaking and unfeasibly exciting.



Wrote about "My Generation"for The Wire's Low End Theories bass-bits celebration of a few years ago:

.".. Often described as lead bassist to Townshend’s  rhythm guitarist, on this late 1965 single Entwhistle's is the loudest instrument (with the possible exception of Moon’s cymbals). For the first minute “Thunderfingers”, as his bandmates nicknamed him,  churns and grinds as relentlessly and remorselessly as a gigantic tunnel-boring drill. Then, outrageously, he takes the solo and slashes a rent in the song’s fabric with a down-diving flurry of notes at once fluidly elegant and brutishly in-your-face.  This is generally regarded as the first bass solo in recorded rock, and as such, it’s a mixed portent.  Entwistle would immediately attempt to reprise the shock effect on the Who’s debut album with the bass-dominated instrumental “The Ox” and over the years he became an increasingly ostentatious player, peaking with the verging-on-Pastorius floridity of Quadrophenia’s “The Real Me” (much admired in the technical guitar magazines).....   Mod, as a musical form as opposed to a subcultural style, represented a uniquely English contribution to rock: the sound of frustration and neurosis, tension and explosive release.  In their own way, for a moment there in the mid-Sixties the Who were as radical as the Velvet Underground. Certainly, as far as Britain is concerned, punk starts here. Entwistle can even be seen as a forefather of postpunk’s  “lead bassists”, or at least the  aggressive hard-rocking sort, such as Jean-Jacques Burnel and Peter Hook. 


This performance is robust and creative but a bit busy


The technical magazines much-revered "Real Me"



(Permit me to digress here and elaborate my riff on Seventies Stodge....   an en-shite-nment of rock that happened in the Seventies when studios started adding more and more tracks... so you lost the focus and impact and smudged organic solidity of Sixties rock....  the sounds started getting separated from each other.... more layers kept getting added... but because it wasn't groups (like 10c.c. or Dark Side of the Floyd) who were all about seizing the possibilities of studio spatiality and postproduction magic, nothing was gained to offset the losses....  it was bands still trying to create a marginally enhanced version of the live-performance model. So all you got was this superfatted sound that was plumped up, but weaker...  feebler...  fainter...   all that is added is just empty calories: flab not sinew. Hence stodge. Because it's rock music whose fundamental premises were better suited to a Sixties set up of  less-options, less time to faff around. Van Morrison's records after Astral Weeks increasingly succumb to the Stodge-ification Syndrome...  The Band's albums too such as Northern Lights-Southern Cross ...  But Quadrophrenia is one of the worst. Just sounds so weak.  )

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Lifetime Achievement Award # 4

A much more full-throated endorsement, this one - Danny Thompson.

The whole album, but especially the title track, "Go Down Easy", and "I'd Rather Be The Devil"



He's only on a couple of cuts on One World, but they are two of the best










One thing I'm glad about - catching John and Danny play together at a rare gig in New York, very shortly before the big man's death.


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Lifetime Achievement Award #5

John McVie

When we did Drummige, I had a post on Mick Fleetwood - about the mind-meld between him and McVie, about it being no accident the group was named after the rhythm section. I could just reproduce that post and replace Fleetwood's name with McVie's, and vice versa, and even use the same music clips, and it would say what needs to be said. 

But this is one I didn't post, I don't think. A song most Brits know and likely love from its use
as the intro theme to the Formula One motor racing show. The bit used being not the first part with the harmony vocals,  but after the breakdown when it starts up again with the fabulous bassline and then sprints off towards the finish. 

As a kid I had no idea that was Fleetwood Mac so you can imagine my surprise circa 1987 hearing Rumours for the first time... 



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Lifetime Achievement Award #6 goes to... 

Norman Watt-Roy

Who I think was in fact - prior to "Fodderstompf" and Wobble - my Funk initiation. 









I actually have the Loving Awareness album somewhere but only given it a desultory listen...

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Lifetime Achievement Award #7 

Cris Kirkwood

Whose praises deserves to be sung as much his  guitaring brother




















Miraculous music....

do yourself a favour, listen to the whole thing...



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INTERLUDE #1 

Separated At Birth

compare

Miles Davis, "Bitches Brew" - the main B-line that kicks in at 2.51  (either Dave Holland or Harvey Brooks)




with

The Birthday Party, "She's Hit" (Tracy Pew)




INTERLUDE #2

Addendum to the Bassline post:

I ended with Jackin Bass....  But in fact the most recent version of this British tradition - which started way back with bleep - of bass-intensified house music,  is deep tech. Which seemed highly promising for a season or three... 
... but again like Bassline seems to have gotten stuck.... 

So perhaps that particular  UK narrative -  house + bass - has exhausted itself


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And now we enter the closing stretch - the Finale's finale: Flashes of Random Bass Brilliance.

Not actually that random, since the perpetrators of each of these usually did some other fab stuff, but I'm aiming to hasten here. 




Horace Panter 





David Steele. Could have picked another dozen, all the early singles and almost all the debut LP.



I know, pass the sick bucket, magic voluntarist anthem etc etc....   But listen how wide and glossy the bass is, how much space on the record it takes up...  Ross Valory


Making for a neat ideology / nation-spirit contrast  - America can-do versus British can't-do



John "Segs" Jennings


A different side to America





Possibly the ultimate Arsequake Anthem....   conceivably the track that inspired the coinage "arsequake". Jeff Pinkus




Brad Lang.  The simple thud-pulse even more than the nimble-fingered stuff.  




Rick Goldstraw. Colossal.  The Hurdy-Gurdjieff Men (and Woman) with a spiritual anthem for a counter-Britain.



Martin Gordon. Also the whole of Kimono My House.




Many contenders but the fluoro-glow of this stand in for them all. Richard D. James


And that's all folks. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bass Bits - Guest(s) Post - the Final Roundup

The penultimate post, rounding up the straggler suggestions and nominations

But first, bloggage: 

Our God Is Speed's adieu to the topic - part 2 of his regional bass music survey plus interlude plus coda

CardrossManiac2 on the might of Deb Googe

... and what will be left of them?'s Bobby on "stoopid bass"

faces on posters too many choices posts on "crank" bass, Miles bass, and the rubbery eroto-bass of Imagination

Action Time Vision with a bunch of stuff


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CJ points to  Hiperasia by Él Guincho as an example of a contemporary album that "has some nice sounding low end.... A lazy comparison to make would be if Panda Bear had grown up on the Canary Islands, he'd be El Guincho"




Further to my "who in 21st Century rock does anything interesting with bass?" query, Andrew Parker notes that Muse are lauded for their basslines. 



This (played by Chris Wolstenholme presumably) is apparently regarded as "the greatest bassline of all time" - at least by the readers of Musicradar



Doesn't strike me as anything much to write home about - just sort of burrows along busily like a overcaffeinated mole... 

Andrew also observes that Duff McKagan of Guns 'n' Roses was a bloody good bassist

Which I would agree with purely on the bass of the Pell Mell Rubberband-Boingy Bit in "Welcome To the Jungle" - takes off at 3.27 



But Andrew also points to:







And he digs up a bit of Duff chat from somewhere, revealing his influences and style (something known as "chorus" - what is that then, musicians out there? Ah, seems it's an effects pedal that creates a shimmery sound, on guitars as much as on basses)


"And so I took learning to play bass. and we all took it really seriously. Steven and I would play together. We just lived for it. And Steven and I would play to Cameo, for Steven to get that groove. And that influenced the back groove on 'Appetite for Destruction.' That's all from playing to Cameo, Sly & the Family Stone."

(This reminds me of Chuck Eddy's prophesy in Stairway to Hell about the inevitability of Disco-Metal as a future hybrid -  indeed I believe he wrote  that it would Come to Pass because it already had to an extent - possibly this very aspect of GnR was one of the proofs he had to brandish )

The chorus style, apparently came from Duff listening to "Paul Simonon from The Clash, Sly & the Family Stone, Cameo, Prince, this band called Magazine - that was Howard Devoto from the Buzzcocks- and the bass had this huge chorus. I didn't know what a chorus was, but he had this sound on his bass. So if you hear chorus on my bass, like 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' 'Rocket
Queen,' that's all from Magazine, this post-punk band."

Barry Adamson, take a bow then... 


Jake Smith expresses his "surprise to see no love for Geddy Lee – bass virtuoso and multi-tasker par excellence. Off the top of my head 'YYZ' springs to mind as fab bass work but on pretty much every Rush song the bass is doing interesting stuff – going above and beyond as well as doing what the bass should do"





Jake also bigs up the "warped but huge" things" Luke Vibert did with bass under his Plug moniker"



Groovy, agreed... But the Vibert stuff that has stayed with me much more is the Wagon Christ - Tally-Ho and above all Throbbing Pouch. 

The space bass on this one....  indeed the entire track ....  really ought to be a hallowed foundational totem for the Low End Theory / Fly Lo scene....




More Andrew Parker - bringing up The Doors, who ironically for a band with no actual bassist (as a permanent line-up member anyway), had lots of good bass bits...

He points to "You're Lost Little Girl" and reckons it's Doug Lubahn who's responsible



I personally would go for this mighty slam-grind groove


Also dig the disco-ahead-of-schedule and boogie-funk sections (which starts about 3 minutes in and goes to the end) of this song-suite:



Andrew also pays tribute to the mighty Kim Deal

"manages to be both brooding and energetic":

"like an absent-minded dawdle that's better than most of your conscious drawings":

"constantly snaking away from from the chord progression"

"what would be unsteady in any other context is a bedrock for the careening guitars and vocals"



Now I have been waiting, and waiting, for someone to come through with Astral Weeks and the (double) bassist on the record Richard Davis

Finally Rebecca Rosengarde steps forward to point out the heinous absence. Thank YOU Rebecca!




Rebecca notes that Davis is regarded as having been the "the session leader" during the making of Astral Weeks. "His bass parts are the heart of each song or at least on equal footing with Van Morrison's vocals".

Legend has it that Morrison recorded his vocals and acoustic guitar separately and then the musical setting was laid down by the players without his involvement. That is a legend in fact, although the singer was notoriously incommunicative. Davis himself  in fact has mordantly observed that there was "no prep, no meeting. He was remote from us, 'cause he came in and went into a booth... And that's where he stayed, isolated in a booth. I don't think he ever introduced himself to us, nor we to him.'


Also perplexing me has been the lack of admiration for Mani - Gary Mounfield of the Stone Roses. Alice Thompson comes through at the last minute with a nod to "Fool's Gold": "Seriously groovy, who at that point would have expected that the Roses could ever have come up with something so convincingly funky?"


Personally, Mani-wise  - indeed and in all ways - I prefer the more robustly rock "I Wanna Be Adored" - which is rock like a mountain is rock.  Whatever you wanna say about "the Sixties" and the Roses are revivalists, that is a track unlike any other in rock history before it. Sounds totally of its time.  


Feel like there's reggae in there too somehow 

Roots rock reggae is also deep in the marrow of this World Domination Entreprises beauty - nominated by Anna Metcalf, who loves its "deep probing raspy pummel"


Think I once described Digger the drummer and bassist Steve Jameson as the white postpunk Sly 'n' Robbie or words to that effect.


Jane Lyons brings another great example of what she calls "low-down, truffle-snuffling bass" - courtesy Rockette Morton, of course



Jane also reps for something much more modern - and in its own way - equally unorthodox. "The bass on this Beyonce hit is mad!"


But who knows who precisely among the squad of people producing, engineering and writing that song actually sculpted those strange lunges and detonations of bass?


Travelling back in time to a completely other era of black music.... RAMP's glorious "Daylight". Bass, by  Nate White, that starts quite simple and snugly in the pocket, but gets more restlessly intricate and creative as the song progresses. 


Nominated by Melanie Brewer, who notes the way "everything in that track seems to glow".


 So good let's listen to it again, without the vocal distracting us.


Kevin Quinn pops by again with an unusual Byrds suggestion, saying "written by Crosby, Hillman's bass thrums as the guitar articulates Heinlein's tale of the 'other' Maybe! Ha. I can also hear Johnny Marr's guitar picking here".  



Andrew Parker (that man again!!) with an extensive big up for Jason Chancellor of Tool

"That riff – so simple, so addictive" - 


"An ominously incessant bassline begins this track (and the third album), but by 1:30 it has morphed into a beautifully molten tone that reveals the breadth of his palette and the mastery of his instrument"


 "for those who want to luxuriate in beautiful bass tone and tasteful harmonics"

  
"similar in mood to Disposition but darker, trippier and more expansive" - 



Late offerings from Fernando Ramírez:

Jenny Lindbergh from Warpaint



Another vote for Geddy Lee



Kris Novolesic



and some love for Nick Beggs of Kajagoogoo - the playing in the intro (as Fernardo notes a misleadingly promising intro - although the whole song is actually fairly fab apart from the flabby chorus. The bridge section from 2.02 is scrumptious)





And finally a nomination I can second and co-sign to the end of Time - from the missus herself, Joy Press.  The Hartnoll Brothers aka Orbital - with a strong contender for greatest UK techno anthem of all time. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bass Bits #11 - Bassline

And so we reach the 21st Century.

And my bass memory goes a bit blank.

Which is odd because if anything Bass was more of a fetish than ever, maybe, in the wider culture.

You got the dubstep bods banging on - boring on, to be honest - about Bass Weight.

Then a bit later you had the horrid coinage "UK Bass", or even just Bass Music.

And yet so very little springs to mind as examples of stellar bass from this entire period. 

Well, this was nice work: 




Bee-ootiful sound-design...

And this dude had a way with the lower frequencies... 





The Digital Mystikz / DMZ end of things?

I like the fact that Loefah would call a tune something like this....



But the very concept of this...  



... makes me feel like I'm stuck at school. 

I double-checked a few other dubsteppy things that I remembered really liking at the time (e.g. Benga & Coki "Night") but really the bass in it, it's not all that. 

Then there was the brostep moment, the wobble-beyond-parody phase.. when the B-line gradually left behind the sub-lo zone altogether for a mid-frequency screech ...  Which could be quite entertaining, in a scato-maniacal, emetic-frenetic sort of way 

This track is as good an example of the genre's undoubted if limited appeal as any - and the title actually is a fine description of what the splatterbass sounds like. Wait for the "Sick Drop" at 1.06



Genre taking the piss out of itself  #1



Genre taking the piss out of itself #2




When I think of the things that did excite me in the last 15 years of dance, I don't actually think of the bass element particularly

Grime - I think of MCs and beats... sometimes bleeps... rarely bass.  

The exception would be probably be Terror Danjah...



...although even here the bass isn't really bass as such, it's that bombastic fanfare-riff and the overall doomy stompy vibe.

More recently, footwork -  what's stunning to me is the beat work and the chopped up vocals.... I rarely even register if there's anything going on with bass 





The bass is in there, doing its job.... but not comment-worthy in and of itself. 

Much the same could be said about this other recent headfuck genre



Bass is there, roiling... contributing to the dark mood.... but pales next to what's going with the other elements in the lurching, counter-intuitive groove

.......

Now of course it could be that after such bass-sensitization in the 90s with jungle and UKG,  by the 2000s those pleasure centres were burned out in my brain...  

(Mind you, I'm actually having a hard time thinking of awesome bass bits in any genre during the 21st Century to date.... Rock for instance - despite there being a postpunk revival, it's slim pickings....  A few moments from Radiohead's Colin Greenwood, mostly on Kid A...  The dude in Vampire Weekend - Chris Baio... )

But then I remembered....

There was at least one truly bass-tastic dance music genre in the 2000s.

And appropriately enough, it was called Bassline.  

The bastard Northern child of speed garage... picking up on things from the previous post like Gant's "Soundbwoy Burial" (regarded as a Niche anthem in the North East) and productions by DJ Narrows...   but pushing that warp science into a veritable Bass Baroque: intricately sculpted, slippery 'n' sinuous convolutions... frilly 'n' frantic...  bass-snakes writhing and intertwining....   at times almost sounding at odds with the beat, like a counter-clockwise groove within the groove. 

The sound had been bubbling along for much of the 2000s in that broad band of England from South Yorkshire across to Liverpool -  its heartland being towns like Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby, Leicester ... A chap called Ambrose sent me a few burned CDs of DJ mixes in the mid-decade but can't say I was super impressed by Bassline House: mostly it just seemed like speed garage, frozen as a style, a regional curio (there was a subgenre called Organ House I seem to recall - that tickled me). 

But the next time I checked it out - the later months of 2007 - Bassline seemed to have come along leaps and bounds. And a few months later it actually leaped into the UK charts, with a couple of hits that reached as high as #2. 




These are some of my faves from that winter of Bassline.  

TS7, “Smile” -  obscenely quivering, lubricious'n' delicious






DJ Q feat MC Bonez - "You Wot" - it's grime, oop North






TRC featuring Zoe, “Why Can’t I Find Love”: a female Monsta Boy, distraught with loneliness





TS7 & T Dot, “Ding Dong” - it's grime oop North (distaff version)






J Holiday Vs T2, “Bed” - a wetly-iridescent rapturous quality redolent of Daft Punk 






Mr V feat Willis Rose, “What's Your Name”: barmy bubbly-squirmer of bass-goo like foaming sex secretions




JTJ - "Stand Up" - it's grime oop North part 3



T2 - "Hey (Virgo Remix)" - madly rotating treadmill of bassage 




































Another Mr V churner of a chune - "Jack in A Box" - LUDIC-crous




DJ Denver, “This Is Sick” -  fractal roil of faecal flatulo-bass





N-Dubz, “Better Not Waist My Time (Wide Boys RMX): rococo-levels of frilly bass-curvature 




I was so into Bassline that - not being tech savvy enough to work out how to record a stream - I resorted to putting my Walkman right up close to my computer speakers to tape 1xtra shows by Cameo and DJ Q.  At that point there wasn't much to be foraged otherwise on the Internet - the odd low quality YouTube clip, nothing much in the way of mixes. So this was my way  of grabbing the tunes and somewhere I have a handful of surprisingly listenable cassettes that are only occasionally interrupted by background sounds, like toilets being flushed, baby minders returning with Tazzy, and so forth.  I think also bought a few CDs (Bassline had this curious bulk-buy economy - mix-CDs sold by the half-dozen, or even job lots of ten - dubious sound quality, tacky packaging, supremely functional music, for people to play in their cars mostly I presume.)  I did get hold of a few bits on vinyl, but the pressing quality tended to be pitiful - and the cost of buying them as imports was offputting. 

And then the sound seemed to.... get stuck again. It didn't leap forward, any further... nor did it repeat its chart-breakthrough successes. 

At a certain point it mutated into a slower version of itself - jackin bass - which was quite diverting for a moment, but again didn't seem to go anywhere ultimately.