Tag Archives: bass

The underground kings of Fade to Mind

If Night Slugs was the finest label of 2010, a case could be made that sister label Fade to Mind wore the crown last year. While not matching the output of the prolific London imprint in quantity, Fade to Mind has made a mark by documenting the most exciting developments in American club music.

The brainchild of LA’s Kingdom and Texas producer Prince William, Fade to Mind is more than a label: it’s a collective of like-minded artists who produce club music that maintains the rough edges of its underground origins. Fade to Mind doesn’t seem interested in “mainsteaming” these cultures as much as uniting underground scenes from LA to New York and all points in between.

After releasing a limited-edition, bootleg mix CD, Fade to Mind’s first official release was the superb Timesup EP by standard bearers Nguzunguzu. The EP is an exploration of mutated bass music that oscillates between sensual and creepy. The video for standout “Water Bass Power” features the off-kilter, aquatic weirdness that defines seapunk.

New Jersey’s MikeQ has become synonymous with the the recent re-emergence and popularity of ballroom music. Fittingly, his first major release, Let It All Out, was Fade to Mind’s second. The EP is an introduction to vogue staples like the Ha beat and speakers like Kevin JZ Prodigy; it even includes a remix by genre originator Vjuan Allure. Continuing to delve into ballroom, the label just dropped a free EP from Massachusetts producer Rizzla, who, along with spinning the Ha (“Badmind Ha”), takes on tropical rave (“Psychoton”). In true ballroom style, “Dick” is a sexed up club track based on a Lil’ Kim sample that you can figure out from the title.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/03 DICK.mp3″ text=”Rizzla – Dick” dl=1]

Fade to Mind hasn’t stopped there, also releasing an EP by the label’s lone European (for now): Gremino. The Finnish producer’s Let’s Jack is a percussive, aggressive take on techno and grime. The breakbeats on “Lush” shake foundations and the midrange pulses on the title track are haunting. Rounding out the collective’s lineup are artists Total Freedom, Cedaa, Clicks & Whistles, and Fatima Al Qadiri, collaborators who will hopefully be releasing music through the label soon.

Want to hear what Fade to Mind is all about without going to their LA-based monthlies? These twin mixes from the label heads do the trick. Just rest assured you’ll be hearing more from Fade to Mind sooner than later.

[wpaudio url=”http://fadetomind.net/audio/ftm_mix_001.mp3″ text=”Prince William – Fade to Mind Mix 001″ dl=1]

Future Grooves: Clicks & Whistles

The future bass scene, like dubstep and garage before it, emanated from the UK. Then it filtered down (predictably) to NYC, LA, Chicago, and the like, a process sped up by the digital landscape. But for a sound that owes so much to the trunk-rattling bass and syrupy rhythms of the Dirty South, future bass has been notably absent there. Until now.

Charlotte’s Clicks & Whistles is comprised of Jorge Xavier Fernandez (Hey Whore Hey) and Petey Evans (Turbo Petey). The duo appeared on the scene last year with their You Do EP, which bounced its way through tropical bass (“Thizzle”) and exotic house (“Mystic Jungle”). They also contributed to the Future Sounds of North America compilation with their swirling rhythm & bass cut “When I Feel.”

This year, Clicks & Whistles hooked up with Distal’s Atlanta-based Embassy Recordings for “Cranberry Goose.” An ode to Grey goose and cranberry juice, it’s energy is all stand up / lean back, with bass-heavy synths that turn deadly as the track progresses. The B-side, “Radiator,” borrows the same synth for a jittery club track. Distal’s remix of “Cranberry Goose” is a hyper juke fest, offered below for you to compare and contrast (courtesy XLR8R).

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Cranberry Goose (Distal Remix).mp3″ text=”Clicks & Whistles – Cranberry Goose (Distal Remix)” dl=1]

The duo are remixing for the likes of AC Slater, Dev79, and Myrryrs, but their finest moment comes when they fully embrace the South. Their remix of Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” soars on electric blue synths, the perfect complement to the original’s beat. Want more? The Three 6 Mafia-sampling “Neva Get Caught” will be out on T&A Records next month. Future bass has finally come home.

Serious Saturdays: Six Feet Deep With Tomb Crew

DJing and producing are two related but distinct skills. Not all beatsmiths can work a crowd, so when DJs with a reputation for destroying raves everywhere from Brixton to Brooklyn start making tracks, you know the beats will be battle-tested.

East London’s Tomb Crew is a perfect example of this. Since 2007, DJs Jamie Floodgate and Nick Bennett, along with hypeman Illaman (aka David Penning), have honed their craft across the globe, playing with nearly every UK bass luminary, including Zinc, Herve, Rusko and Sinden, to name just a few. Tomb Crew approaches DJ gigs like a live act, working the crowd into a bass-rattled frenzy.

After a string of successful remixes for acts including Crookers, Drop the Lime and French Fries, the Crew got to work on their own bass creations. With a sound that draws from all strands of bass music, Tomb Crew blends dubstep, club, kuduro, and jungle into a concoction more potent than anything you can buy at a rave.

This year, they released their first EP on Trouble and Bass, a perfect fit for their brand of bangers. Mixing old school jungle with new school bass, the tracks range from the tropical, horn-driven “Oh So Good” to the divebombing “King of the Tweets.”

On their recently released Watch This EP (on Black Butter Records), Tomb Crew continues to update throwback styles with an emphasis on the low end. “Yaphet Kotto Stole My Steez” – a candidate for best song title of the year – oscillates between housey breakbeats and the group’s trademark wobble (and you can download it for free on Soundcloud). The title track, featuring MCs Rubi Dan and Juxci D alongside Illaman, is a slice of tropical bashment perfect for carnival.

Tomb Crew always rocks Mishka, and the guys had a cameo in the Fall 2011 Lookbook teaser. Keep watch for the collection’s official release, and look out for Tomb Crew at a rave near you.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

We Live In the Club: Trouble & Bass Takes Over DC

Trouble & Bass’s monthly takeover of DC’s U Street Music Hall has consistently been the preeminent dance club’s finest night. In a no-frills club built with bone-rattling bass in mind, who better to play God (or Satan) than the pioneers of the global bass movement?

In an attempt to outshine previous T&B DCs, the crew (represented this time by The Captain) brings an all-star lineup to the club next Thursday. Leading off is new DC resident Willy Joy, who has already brought the house down on several occasions. Moving from a DC newbie to a DC veteran, next up is Nouveau Riche bass fiend Steve Starks, whose latest track is, well, a “Problem.”

Forget the haters: club music is very much alive. Newark’s own Brick Bandit Tim Dolla brings his brand of Jersey club to U Hall. Expect to hear plenty of hip hop and R&B hits chopped up into swagged out bangers. Headlining the night is Brenmar, whose future bass take on club music makes him a producer to watch.

Building songs around the perfect sample, be it Aaliyah or Marques Houston (as he does in “Taking It Down”), Brenmar’s jams are a perfect way to come down off that bass high. DC: don’t miss Brenmar and company. You’ll be sorry.

Thursday July 28th, 10pm – 3am
U Street Music Hall
1115 U St NW
Washington DC
$10 Advance tickets | $5 before midnight
+18 to Enter

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Future Grooves: Kingdom

Kingdom is a producer that epitomizes my recent obsession, a trend I’ve coined rhythm and bass. The Brooklyn-based producer draws on all types of electronic music – dubstep, UK funky, juke, and kuduro, to name a few – along with the sultry vocals and melodic bent of R&B. With releases on leading labels Night Slugs and Fools Gold, along with a pick on the Trouble & Bass-curated Sounds of NYC EP, Kingdom finds himself at the forefront of a music revolution.

His debut single, the wobbly raver “Mind Reader,” received remixes from Night Slugs label heads Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, who both altered the song’s tempo to reveal different aspects of its character. Bok Bok’s take is slower, putting Shyvonne’s vocals in the forefront; the remix by L-Vis amps up the song’s already high energy.

Kingdom returned the favor by releasing That Mystic on their label; the EP is one of the highlights of their young catalog. Under the scattershot percussion and foreboding synths are deep grooves that dare the listener not to dance. There are even surprising moments that lift the veil, like the breakdown of the otherwise unrelenting “Bust Broke” that pretty clearly samples Faith Evans’ “Soon As I Get Home.”

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/bustbroke.mp3″ text=”Kingdom – Bust Broke” dl=0]

As alluded to earlier, Kingdom’s love affair with R&B doesn’t stop at a lone Faith Evans sample. He dabbles with baby making music on his remix of Usher’s “Appetite,” and his mix for XLR8R ends with a brilliant mash-up of Girl Unit’s “Every Time” and Ciara’s “Ride.” The latter was just released as a Night Slugs white label, “Ride It Every Time.”

While he can get smooth with rhythm and bass, Kingdom also has a sharper edge. Songs like “Uptown Buck” (on the aforementioned Sounds of NYC compilation) and “Hottest in America” revel in programmed drums, electronic chirps, and vocal slices. With the company he keeps, it’s no surprise that Kingdom makes dance music for all occasions.

Download: Kingdom – Hottest in America
Download: Kingdom – XLR8R Podcast

Album Review: James Blake – James Blake

For an artist who is only 22 years old, James Blake has already had a lot of digital ink spilled about him. Over the past year, he released three highly acclaimed EPs and a few singles, all of which pales in comparison to his self-titled debut record (released today but building hype since it’s December leak).

From his earliest release, the single “Air & Lack Thereof / Sparing the Horse,” Blake laid down a marker for his sound: R&B-infused post-dubstep with pitchshifted vocals, soothing piano chords and pulsing swells of bass. His multi-layered, surging compositions put him in the company of artists like Mount Kimbie and Untold, on the less dance-oriented end of the spectrum. “The Bells Sketch” is typical of these releases; bits and pieces of the familiar and nostalgic, mechanical chirps and whirls next to processed vocals.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/James-Blake-The-Bells-Sketch.mp3″ text=”James Blake – The Bells Sketch” dl=”0″]

Many of the compositions on his records begin with minimal elements, like a simple piano melody and a two-step beat, before sneakily building into something ominous and claustrophobic. While they start as whispers and suggestions, the songs soon turn into several competing conversations. There’s an uneasiness that is not entirely unpleasant.

That trend continues on James Blake. While pushing against the boundaries of an increasingly characteristic sound, Blake has found a guiding principle in “less is more.” Throughout the record, Blake’s voice is processed and layered into a digital/analog cyborg, often repeating the same lyric. The overall effect is hypnotic and moving, as on “I Never Learnt to Share:” “My brother and my sister don’t speak to me / but I don’t blame them” stays consistent, but the song builds and pulses, morphing their tone and meaning.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/James-Blake-I-Never-Learnt-To-Share.mp3″ text=”James Blake – I Never Learnt to Share” dl=”0″]

Covering Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” Blake keeps the melody but makes the song his own, adding a thick layer of sub-bass to the piano-driven ballad. It’s a trick he masters on the album; despite how sparse and minimal the songs tend to be, there is a rich low-end that adds a warmth to the predominantly cold compositions. Don’t be fooled – this is a record built for subwoofers, not earbuds.

The second single, “Wilhelms Scream,” is blessed with one of the album’s sweetest vocal melodies. The video for the song perfectly captures the interplay between high and low, foreground and background that Blake tools with here and elsewhere.

James Blake is quickly becoming a singular force in music. The closest match for both his sound and rapid rise would be the XX, another act that makes pure soul music, stripped of excess and focused on bass. And he seems poised to exceed even that lofty standard.

Future Grooves: Trouble & Bass

While this column usually serves as a first look at an artist, this week’s feature needs no introduction: for 4 years, NYC’s Trouble and Bass collective have lived up to their billing as Heavy Bass Champions of the World. Whether playing electro, dubstep, grime, or jungle, the crew does it with excellence and a trademarked gothic-rave chic.

As their anniversary party rolls into the venue best suited to their selections, take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the T&B crew.

Like the best (and most evil) corporations, the tone is set by the man at the top. Luca Venezia, better known as Drop the Lime, founded Trouble and Bass back in 2006, and is known for his psychobilly trappings and bass frequency dominance. While his Sex Sax may be the tune of the moment, “Set Me Free” is an even stronger song, with it’s “Show Me Love”-esque diva vocals and nonstop, layered bass. Here’s a live performance at last year’s Fool’s Gold vs. Trouble & Bass Halloween Party:

Next to DTL, the most recognizable T&B crew member is AC Slater (and not just because of his Saved by the Bell namesake). AC Slater is a remixer without peer; he’s given his patented electro-bass treatment to tracks by Moby, Little Boots, and Steve Angello, to name a few. “Take You,” his collaboration with Ninjasonik, is, to paraphrase Kanye West, a motherfucking monster – and that was before Nadastrom got their hands on it and turned it into the tech house banger you’re most likely to hear tonight.

The queen of Trouble and Bass is none other than Star Eyes, who sat down with TGRI a few months back. Star Eyes is another jungle fanatic who now makes grimed-out but party-friendly dubstep. Dexplicit (also in the crew) offered up this remix of Star Eyes’ “Disappear,” which makes an already haunting song more sinister.

[Editor’s note: A previous version of this post included Udachi who, while part of the T&B extended family, is on Party Like Us. -CK]

For 4 years, Trouble and Bass have been the definitive DJ collective, label, and party for bassfreaks. So what’s next? DTL will be touring in support of his next single, “Hot As Hell,” which is guaranteed to be just that. Never content to stand still, the latest volume of Heavy Bass Champions of the World features a track that combines the two most satisfying trends in underground EDM. Flinch’s “Hiero” is all throwback jungle breaks before a bass blast that hits like an 18-wheeler. It’s also the odds-on favorite to be the next big hit from T&B.

Catch the Trouble and Bass DC crew at the U Street Music Hall tonight, with Bart B-more and Deathface. And don’t miss these upcoming T&B DC dates:

Oct 31st – Trouble & Bass DC Halloween!
Nov 10th – Trouble & Bass DC w/ Supra1
Dec 8th – Trouble & Bass DC w/ Zombies For Money

Mishka gets dark with Deathface

New York clothing line / record label / rules of the universe Mishka are underground tastemakers. Their designs have defined hipster chic since its founding in 2003, and its series of Keep Watch mixtapes has been just that: mixes from some of the fastest rising stars in electronic dance music. Major Lazer, Rusko, Skream, and Nadastrom are just some of the acts that have contributed to the series in what is becoming an underground rite-of-passage.

Next up is recent Trouble & Bass signee Deathface. As Deathface, Johnny Love – formerly of Guns ‘n’ Bombs – is leading the way in creating dubstep that is sonically and thematically darker than ever before. His Horror EP is equal parts bass and blood, and his Mishka mix is no different.

The mix starts our ominously enough, with the grim horns of Benga‘s “Rock Music” descending into some two-step wobble. Goth-wave duo Blessure Grave are given remix treatment on “Strangers in the House,” set to be the first release from Mishka’s record label.

The entire mix is an unrelenting, dark grindfest, but it really hits it’s stride about midway through, as Deathface’s remix of the Mexican Institute of Sound’s “Cumbia” fades into hit-of-the-moment “Sex Sax.” When Mishka says, “Keep Watch,” it’s best to listen.

Dubstep Dossier: Redlight

After exploring drum-and-bass producers who have taken the dubstep plunge, I was not surprised that another up-and-coming bass producer was among their ranks. This week’s Dubstep Dossier is dedicated to a producer you need to know: Redlight.

Redlight, the DnB DJ formerly known as Clipz, first appeared on my radar when Rusko dropped his track “My Love” (among others) in his Mishka Mix. Between the catchy house vocal, funky rhythm, and big drops of “My Love,” Redlight looked like someone to keep an eye on. (PS If you still haven’t copped that Rusko mix, it’s essential listening. I’ll wait for you to go download it.)

The Bristol-based producer released the Lobster Boy EP last fall, and the four track EP builds on the promise of “My Love,” bringing together elements of dubstep, funky, breaks and grime, with a Caribbean feel that speaks to dubstep’s origins. If you’re a fan of Major Lazer’s dance floor alchemy, Redlight’s material will be just as infectious.

The tracks are dance floor killers. “Pick Up The Phone,” featuring Jenna G & Jammer, even adds a touch of club to the mix, while “Kid Soldier” is all wobble, Redlight turning knobs like a NASA controller. The reggae-rave of “Feel So Good,” commands the crowd to “wine up ya body… move to the riddim.” Check the video:

The highlight of the EP is “Be With You,” which will have audiences alternating between daggering and old school raving. The beat is a consistent engine as the song shifts between toastmaking and vamping.

Redlight’s newest single, “Stupid,” features singer Roses Gabor and pushes further into UK funky, while maintaining enough low-end for true bassheads. The video is a psychadelic, tribal dance-off. To quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

Between his output and hosting his own “In New 1Xtra DJs” program on BBC Radio, Redlight names EDM heavy-hitters Skream, Toddla T, Jack Beats, Goldie, Carl Cox, Pete Tong and Annie Mac among his fans. Not bad company to join. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.