Just now (at the time of writing), @Idmforums tweeted to @Skrillex, inviting him to hear some real bass music. I had to laugh. “Look Skrillex, you’re doing it all wrong. Our bass compilation will show you where you can improve.” I can only hope he listens to it, because he could really learn a thing or two (perhaps we should look out for his avatar cropping up on the forum in the next few weeks!).
The IDMForums netlabel has always been a clean-cut showcase for pushing the vast talent cooped up within the walls of the forum out into the world of netaudio. Now with 34 releases (I am on IDMf003, track 2!), they have managed to keep this branch of their community alive through hard dedication and strong collaborative spirit. When hunting around the internet, it doesn’t take long to find stale forums with stale podcasts and stale release schedules (well, we are not that surprised at the occasional death of a netlabel either, but for every dead netlabel, at least three newer and better labels will take its place). It certainly looks like the IDMForums label is thriving harder than ever…
Understandably, this compilation is quite eclectic, but welcomingly so. From brain battering clunky beats to quirky melodic ambience, this compilation covers a very wide range of textures and emotions, whilst retaining a good coherence which is hard to achieve with a large number of separate contributors. As promised, the low-end is very prominent, but not in a clichéd way. There are ‘big’ basslines, but none as brick-wall-bland and brainless as Skrillex’s frequent portrayal of Transformer-gangbang. There is a strong melodic presence and compositional awareness included in every track, which is always a big plus for my ears in particular.
So, a brief play-by-play: The first track by ‘Circus of Mind’ is absolutely fantastic. I haven’t heard a slow jam so hefty, yet so polite and reserved. Some wonderful cutting and deranged melodies grabbed my attention and sent my coffee-fuelled brain into orbit. I expected track 2 (by Michael Kneed) to pick up the tempo, as is so usually the case with compilations of this nature; but no! A tuneful ambience brings peace and awareness to your listening position. CyStemSell’s early-aphex-esque future tune was also a big pleasure. Wild scary pads and rolling percussion; a little more variation and a stronger melodic direction would be nice, but a great atmosphere nonetheless. SB-Six has a great little track ‘Only You’, which I think has one of the nicest bass sounds on the album.
I didn’t like ‘Lucky One’ ‘s track. A little too brash and lifeless, and reminded me of feeling quite ill at a stale rave. Qianta softens the blow with a tender and reassuring rub on the back. IG88 gave me the shock of my life. It’s a new DnB tune, with a female vocal, which I really like! I never thought I would ever like DnB ever again, but this has proved me wrong. Smooth and careful, with excellent mixing, and just enough cheese for the genre. Stereoglyph made me feel a bit sick; the big bland synth lines sound like something acquired free with a cheap electronic music magazine cover CD, and couldn’t quite compete with the quality and careful complexity heard in the majority of previous tracks. Neuroscientist also rekindled an element of the DnB woe with a cheeky shuffle, Vibert-style sampling, and a feral, squirming bassline. Lastly, a fabulous finish by Concierge_Weetr, a captivating braindance which sent me somewhere quite delightfully dark indeed.
So, mostly good if you like beat-makers pushing their sound to the limits and giving it their all. Mostly bad if you are trying to complete a complex task, or are having a relaxing Sunday afternoon. The production on these tunes is truly wonderful, and as a free release for anyone to obtain and hear, it is a great album to keep as a reference when making your own mixes. These guys, and many other electronic music veterans (who are doing their utmost to support and contribute to the net audio scene) are actively posting over at IDMforums right now, so I suggest you check it out and start increasing your MC status!
Circus of Mind – Jiggawatt
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