On the edge of this place we all find comfort in calling home there stands a shimmering slice of space/time that beckons to be explored; yearns for its matrix to be disrupted and rearranged by the hands of this land’s artistic masterminds and all those called to express themselves in its presence. It has existed and will exist as long as life breathes earth, wind, fire, and water across this sacred planet but few get to receive such majesty in their often limited lifetimes. When opened up to such experience the color spectrum broadens, the noise thickens and the growth of each being is felt instead of viewed… You might be wondering how I intend to go about meandering my way threw each cosmic spasm of Bassnectar’s 360 degree NYE blowout..if you know me, you know I could weave you deep down the hole into the pit of my own soul-expanding experience, and I might. But I’m not in this one to take you along with me. This here articulation of my thoughts is an attempt to be concise and to the point and just maybe paint a small glimpse into one of the best sound experiences of my short life. Considering this to be the 4th time I hit the road south to Nashville, TN the man behind the roving pulsation of low-end frequency creation and hard-charging sound theory had built an almost omnipresent influence on my standards for bass music since I first discovered him in 2010. If you can’t tell already, he nailed this year’s culminating celebration of sound system culture– to the moon then shot it sideways into a wormhole like in that movie Interstellar where the female puts her hand into the blackhole as they get too close. I fancy calling them ‘timestretches’. So does Bassnectar. In this case, relative to the behemoth track by the same title, Lorin Ashton’s way of flexing and fluidly jolting his audience into lush soundscapes, one after another with relentless serenity, has earned him credit in my book as a master creator of sonic time and space. His track-listings are varied and mystical to even myself and a stream of others not quite as learned of bass music’s newest and underground sound-works. Regardless, going to a Bassnectar experience is like going to an amusement park with thousands of other mesmerisingly beautiful freaks in one giant ship about to travel through every ride in the park without stops, with only what you brought along to survive. Oh and the park flooded and is teaming with ancient flora and fauna going through various stages of evolution and mutation as Bassnectar steers you through the vibrant waters. It’s fantastic and over-stimulating and sometimes downright lude. The sound is louder and crisper than you’ve ever heard and the incredibly fluid and varied visuals are pumped through a megatron with at least 10 other additional screens to create a spectacular perfectly fitting viewing surface. But beyond all of that and beyond the absolutely brilliant tunes Lorin pumps through his billion plus watt 360 degree system; sometimes 4-5 at a time down to moments of auditory singluarity; its his smoothness of execution that sets him far away from the rest of bass music’s touring competitors. But it was never about being bigger or better to Lorin Ashton. It has remained and will always remain, (no toes crossed here, just a simple faith), about the fine-tuning, the dedication to precision, and the responsibility inherent in being a channel of this planet’s sacred sound and movement. With even the slightest miscalculation the man behind that much sonic force could wipe out an entire building of vulnerable listeners. But when in the hands of bass music’s baddest Don, the theme is simply “relax and let go.” This new year’s eve in Nashville contained some of the very highest of highs in my life thus far; in that string of fleeting sights, sounds, and energetic releases the overwhelming sense of celebration for the gift of life and the freedom to flail in whatever way my body tells me is like the part of the dream that seems to last forever. Infinite beauty. But we all wake up and the challenge lies ahead to turn this waking world into the greatest dream you could ever create. The inspiration to follow that intention came free in my experiences with Bassnectar music but only when I began to look past those who dwell in negativity and greed. We all find ourselves wanting more but when you take a stance and find the courage to immerse yourself in something that holds meaning to you and brings a feeling to your soul like nothing else on this planet you might find the “more” you were looking for all along. It resides in the nooks and crannies of the cavernous spaces we inhabit and in the gravity-defying echos cast across the lands by the amplifiers of our universe’s soulful groan. Now for a moment, follow me into the fray..
After an absolutely MENTAL set from the one they call Sensei, known to most simply as Tipper, the evening began on the moon; a moon rotating our planet but born from the trillions of exploding stars escaping time eternally. And to those stars is where the ship was pointed. As Tipper left the crowd on a comet, Bassnectar took the stage to further rocket our specific breed of freak-partiers into the next zone. In true Bassnectar-fashion, a cinematic revision of Back to the Future, “Bass to the Future,” told us early on it wasn’t to be a night of Bassnectar throwbacks. It was a night meant to reveal the tingling, tremoring potential of these precious present moments and of course trigger a few reminders of where it all began for the Santa Cruz-born pioneer of peaking and plunging basslines. Always a favorite moment of mine during Bassnectar experiences, the first 15 minutes took us through a conscise study in future jungle drum n’ bass featuring mashups/remixes from Eptic, Sub Zero, David Heartbreak and Must Die!. The turbulent sounds of each new edit cascaded from ceiling to floor in swirling vortexes of sub-bass and lurching redirections. Bassnectar and iLL Gates’ masterful collaboration, ‘Expanded’ found its own unique rebirth with added lyrics by the Beastie Boys transitioning into a splayed out rising vocal chop of ‘Rose Colored Bass’ by David Heartbreak which effectively softened the soul into a glowing pool of pure nostalgia. From there the pace quickened while the crowd coalesced tighter and tighter over the volumizing waves of shifts in pressure density. We bounced, we laughed, we cried. We hugged and shared energy with some of the finest freaks on the planet as we ate sweets and rippled through space while the maestro carved out exclusive vibratory pathways for our minds to traverse. As midnight approached the atmosphere seemed to gain another level of scintillation on top of its already shimmering particles. A segment of lofty Bassnectar originals from his latest album, Noise vs Beauty lead to a beautiful moment after, “The Future,” as he melded the ending into a Kaskade track called, “All You,” with a plethora of added 808s and low-end oscillations. You’re my ammunition, rang across the sea of humans as Bassnectar’s family photos beamed through the megatron; a message to us all– we are the power. We are the spark and the fuel for such magnificent explosions in his eyes and the rest of the world’s progress. Midnight struck in the center of a lesser-known Bassnectar remix featuring vocals from the Bruno Mars song titled, “Locked Out of Heaven.” Twisting and building higher and tighter into the sky, Lorin let go of the reigns as it all collapsed in a fluid wash of memories. Only you senior bassheads recognized the “dis song, dis song” vocal pattern woven throughout the ensuing moments. We are living colors in this Art of Revolution.. 🙂 “Flashback,” into “Timestretch,” with Lykke Li vocals, “I’ll follow, I’ll follow you, I’ll I’ll follow, follow you, follow you.. dream sequences I could never attempt to transmit the true vibratory bliss of through a few written words. In my memories this is where things got extremely transcendent and other-worldly all-together yet stayed somehow rooted in the ancient shifting, sinking, and swelling structures of earth and all her components. Through a plethora of unreleased live edits and transitions only categorized and familiar to their creator, Lorin lead us through the trenches of bass music’s past, present and future, slowing down at a few key destinations to let us lick the salt from the walls of the caves we were sent to explore. Dropping an absolutely MOLTEN live edit of “Nation,” one of his many collaborations with Canadian producer Excision, the tempo thickened, the clock stopped.. and then the ancestoral human-generated wobbles of “Blow” lead us to the greet the surface one again. Some true show stoppers from a by-gone era of Nectar-y goodness graced our ears interlaced with steaming heaps of auditory refuse only a true basshead would choose to stomp through. And here we arrive at my hands-down favorite segment of the evening; a moment to top all moments in my 5 year career of seeing Lorin lay down the truth. Taking a moment to pause, he calmly queued up and let Frank Sinatra’s “Black Magic” careen across the room with a charging thump crescendo-ing below the surface.. Same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine.... Rumbling, groaning, like the bars of a cage being bent with the mind of a wizard locked inside; the build, the angelic vocals of Aphex Twin’s decade old release “Windowlicker” started to reveal themselves as the bars of the cage folded open like origami. And then the release; the coming forth of every charged molecule in your being unleashed on a dimension devoid of judgement. In this complete annihilation of connection to anything previous, or yet to occur, the present meant EVERYTHING. The crowd seemed to shrink a few feet, the floor became more viscous and the crushing weight of Bassnectar’s sound bombs weakened the knees. But like every good shattering of the soul, herein lies, arguably, the most powerful point of a person’s waking life; the chance to rebuild, the chance to evolve from the constraints of what brought you down in the past. Mimi Page entered the stage and sang an astonishing live version of “Butterfly” with every lighter lit as the crowd floated about the now disintegrated Bridgestone Arena floor. Reverently, the stretched out rotations of giant helicopter blades and the lifting force of a galaxy-sized butterfly’s flight shook the room to the very core of what it means to breathe. The feminine spirit gave herself to the heavens and received forgiveness and a rebirth in return. The final 30 minute stretch..worthless of me to speak of the stillness and grace found in the chaotic throbbing oceans of love.. you’ll just have to dive in and swim with the prehistorics yourself next time.
Always remember, there’s a time to close your eyes and a time to open them. Maybe we need to open some and close others but its surely a balance of both. The future is bright for us earthlings and if this monumental Bassnectar experience says anything about our place in society it screams to me that we put ourselves exactly where we need to be. BE there, experience the beauty in each minuscule pocket of light, shadow, sound and silence. Gain positive contact from each brush with pain. And when the opportunity comes to MOVE, to PROGRESS, to LEARN, SEIZE it and let it cast you off into the unknown. For only there do we truly come to know ourselves and of the masterful human counterparts that we share this glowing rock with.
If you’re still reading, you made it this far with me and I want to say thank you and give you a very special thanks for being a part of this all. However insignificant of a role you think you play, I promise you, your love and positive outpouring will only work in the most incredible ways for everyone on this planet. I’ve had the joy and pleasure of my heart being cracked open and firmly pieced back together by a man who’s love for life and the majesty every moment holds shines through all else in a world full of distractions and gimmicks. His austere presence on stage and the authenticity of every action fortifies the notion that magic is created and brought forth from the deepest pockets of our existence with hard work and attention to intention above all else. In short, what I experienced in Nashville was nothing less than a rebirth for bass music, myself, and all those around me whether they wish to give air to that notion or not. Commandeer your life and continually give thanks to the choices you have. And for the love of all things sacred never lose the fight to regain the liberties that will inevitably be pulled from your grasp throughout your life. I had the immense good fortune of beginning my year grooving out to the precision sound-bombs and poetic melodies of a traveler who has given his LIFE to the amplification of his message and ultimately all of ours. “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.” -MLK. And be sure to kiss your local Agent Squish next time they drop the heat at on that dancefloor. I move for you. And I KNOW you move for me.
All Divine, All the Time~