January 10, 2008

Rollercoaster rides


Further thoughts on Bassline....

Dominic responds:

    "The hardcore continuum had frozen into a permanent midwinter that appeared to be a terminal condition..."

    You don't say...

    Great article, tho': I agree that bassline house is joyous, and for the reasons you discuss. I loved the vocals on "heartbroken" because they were deadpan without being affectless - plangently normal, you might say - and the acrobatics were in the vocal science rather than the singer's technique (there's a distant echo of Mel & Kim in there). It's obvious no-one's let an AutoTune plug-in within a hundred miles of them, too...

    Couple of things I've noticed:

    i) Use of filtered square waves in the bass lines. These sound dated, 8-bit, BBC-micro-ish, but also (because of the filter envelope, which gives it a sort of duck-like quack) round and phat. They also transpose well out of the normal bass range into higher tones - you hear synth melodies that are basically bass figures pitched up an octave or two. I haven't listened to enough stuff closely enough to tell whether bits of tune migrate between bass and melody in the same song, but it wouldn't surprise me.

    ii) In spite of the bass-heaviness of it, it's also clearly designed to sound good coming out of tinny little portable mp3 player speakers. This is in fact how I've heard nearly all the bassline house I've heard over the past month (that and the occasional visit to 1Xtra): teenagers in the bus station crowded round someone's phone or player listening to the stuff. It's like the return of the portable transistor radio (with similar connotations of public nuisance - I've seen kids get kicked off buses for playing their music too loud), and a complete breakout from the iPhone personal-music-space mentality. It turns out that peer-to-peer file copying isn't the only way people like to share music, after all.

Posted by mark at January 10, 2008 10:02 AM | TrackBack