:: Bassnectar :: Hodi’s Half Note :: May 2 :: ::Bluebird Theater :: May 3 :: :: Fox Theatre :: May 5 ::
By Lisa Oshlo
For nearly a decade now, Lorin Ashton (a.k.a. Bassnectar) has been coming of age on the West Coast underground scene. Weaving in and out of genres with force, volume and intent, Bassnectar’s beats are infectious and fresh, as well as a platform for political awareness and social change.
Both his passion and his skills have brought together fans all over the musical map. He is a product of Burning Man, of San Francisco underground hip-hop, of the hippie jamband scene, and of rave culture. He mixes all of these sounds kaleidoscopically, with a whole lot of low, deep, nasty bass lines thrown into the mix.
Ashton explained his love of the bass to The Marquee as he traveled through Canada.
“Well for one, it’s a pretty new thing for humans, being able to control frequencies that oscillate so low. Until just recently, I’d bet you could only feel true sub-throbbage during an earthquake or thunderstorm, or a heartbeat in the womb maybe, I don’t know. To pulverize a mob of people with mega-low frequency waves of energy is extremely overwhelming, and to BE pulverized by it is extremely addicting,” he said.
Bassnectar’s first album, 2005’s double-disc debut Mesmerizing the Ultra, first demonstrated his mix of styles with focus on bass-heavy breakbeat, alternative media, and social responsibility. It featured collaborations with artists such as Michael Franti and Spearhead, STS9, Buckethead, SCI’s Michael Kang, Heavyweight Dub Champion, KRS One, and breakbeat pioneer Freq Nasty. It also sampled vocal tracks from left wing heavy hitters Noam Chomsky and Michael Ruppert.
His eagerly awaited second album, 2007’s Underground Communication, is again bass-centric, with lots of hop and lots of slow, heavy breaks. This tempo supports MCs and poets and again spotlights the artists’ social activism, and is more song-based and lyrical than the first album. The title of the album itself invokes grassroots networking and indie media in the face of today’s biased news outlets and possible privatization of the internet, one of the last bastions of free speech.
Regarding his albums, Bassnectar said listeners can expect “very heavy production, lots of deep, massive bass lines, swatting beats and mashing percussion with loads of intentional vocals (rhythm and information) and plenty of sweeping melodic fun and games. They can expect me to play with the tender balances of the bestial and the perverse versus the angelic and the gorgeous … if I don’t feel like using the word ‘freakbeat’ then I usually call it ‘omnitempomaximalism.’ Live performance, on the other hand, is completely free-form.”
In addition to his innovative blend of modern music, Bassnectar often mixes in sounds from bygone times. “I love Balkan gypsy music, rare international sounds, antique moments in time, oddball Romanian folk jams, and all sorts of other music from previous eras that is not only JUST as good as when it was first created but it ALSO invokes nostalgia for an incredible double penetration of the psyche,” he said.
Bassnectar deems Colorado one of his favorite places to play, and looks forward to returning this month. “It’s like the gigantic scene of jambands just ripped open to embrace the wobbliest of bass line music,” he said, “but they still give full freedom of expression, so now it’s just completely off the goddamn chain.”
:: Bassnectar ::
:: Hodi’s Half Note :: May 2 ::
::Bluebird Theater :: May 3 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: May 5 ::
Spectate if you Gravitate:
• Mark Farina
• Blue Six