Band of the Day

2012.06.28

Bassnectar

Powerful bass rumblings from an electronic dance pioneer
I'm a glitch modulator, sip on the data, verb conjugator, plus herb inhalator.
lyrics from Teleport Massive

Lorin Ashton, the man behind Bassnectar, is an electronic music artist crossing genres including dubstep, breakbeat, and glitch. Ashton, originally from San Jose, CA, began frequenting the late 90s rave scene as an organizer and promoter. In 1996 he began learning how to DJ, and eventually went on to study electronic music at the University of Santa Cruz. Ashton has become a prominent figure in the California electronic music scene, and has remixed and collaborated with such artists as Ellie Goulding, Gogol Bordello, and Fever Ray. He’s been releasing albums since 2001, beginning with Freakbeat for the Beatfreaks, and has enjoyed a heavy touring schedule including playing most of the major music festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and the Electronic Daisy Carnival. Bassnectar’s latest album, Vava Voom, was released on April 10, 2012 through his label Amorphous Music. The album contains several collaborations, most notably the title track, which features Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco.

“Bass Music” has got to be one of the most confusing terms in the electronic dance music dictionary. A catch-all for various strains of (mostly) UK music from dubstep to breakbeat to jungle, it doesn't seem to mean much. But for San Francisco-based DJ Bassnectar (born Lorin Ashton), it seems like the perfect description, he's obsessed with low end in all its rumbling glory. Almost like a super hero creation story, Ashton cites the influence that the ultra-powerful bass of earthquakes had on him as a child in the earthquake prone Bay Area. Ashton got his first taste of the rave scene as a teen and has been hooked on EDM ever since, starting to DJ soon after and releasing his first proper album in the early 2000s. Since then, he's built a rabid following with dedicated fans called Bassheads (think Deadheads) traveling far and wide for his energy packed shows.

Like most of his music, Bassnectar's latest release Vava Voom is an eclectic mix of styles from dubstep to hip hop to dreamy ambient music. Title track “Vava Voom,” which features rapper Lupe Fiasco, is a power charged four minutes of tumbling breakbeats, Lupe Fiasco's fiery flow, and bass that lurks at the bottom of the mix, then makes its wobbly attack. “Empathy” lays off the aggression a bit, leveraging a host of densely shimmering synths and slow, but dramatic beats. When the leisurely, pretty female vocals kick it's still not a trance track, but it could put you into a trance. “Ping Pong” is one of the more genius uses of beat as found sound in recent memory as Ashton busts into some dubstep, but uses the skittering sound of a ping pong ball ricocheting from paddle to table to focus the percussion. Like all of his music, it's playful and energetic, but instilled with an underlying sense of thoughtfulness that separates it from typical dance floor fair.