Bassnectar’s 4 Year NYE Legacy Breathes New Life Into All

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~



SubSanctuary– Pittsburgh’s Premier Psy-Bass Extravaganza

If I had to pick the moment I fell in love with psy-bass music I’d happily offer you the story of my dear friend Wink and I’s journey deep into the woods early Sunday morning at Rootwire Music and Arts Festival 2K13. I had finally taken his advice and rested up during the day to save some energy for the slew of underground artists playing from midnight-7am. We were in prime condition to find the funk and le funk we did find! That morning I recall bouncing on the handrail of a retro-fitted stage on top of an old school bus to the salacious sounds of Push/Pull, Erothyme, Soulacybin and last but not least, Futexture. That 5 hour span of existence, to this day, remains one of my most prized memories. A handful of months later we just couldn’t let go of the idea of throwing our own art/culture-centric psy-bass event here in Pittsburgh, PA. With some late-nights and ample planning we threw together our first SubSanctuary back in April 2014. Our good friend Eric Tully, leading Brightside Movement and dear Wink set the tone for what was sure to not be the only one of its kind. Round two came by in June headlined by Ohio psy-trap lord Yheti alongside a slew of local painters and artisans.

This Friday, Oct. 24 join us as we blast off into our third evening of friends, family, art and lush low frequencies at 4041 Bigelow Blvd, N. Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA. Admission is only $5 with the action stretching well into the morning starting at 11pm and ending at 5am. The line up features SubSanctuary O.G’s, Brightside and Wink, and introduces Cryoverb to our new community.

Event is BYOB and features and outdoor rooftop lounge so dress appropriately!

We hope to see plenty of new/old faces and promise a beautiful evening of collective consciousness and co-creation 🙂

Papadosio’s “If It Wasn’t For You” from their new live album ‘Day & Night’

Well, it’s been one hell of a summer for us over here at Subbassics, but before we get back into the swing of things (plenty of exciting reviews, schedules and music news coming your way), I’d like to share my favorite track from Papadosio’s newest live album ‘Day & Night’.

-“If It Wasn’t For You”-

More than once, this song has FLOORED me with its depth and vibrational beauty. The meaning is absolutely whatever you make it out to be but I know we all have that certain someone who shed themselves and helped us find a truer sense of ourselves along the way. Give the track a listen and look out for Papadosio on their upcoming Fall/Winter Imagine Cells tour!




Imagine Cells 2014

Hope to see some of you at Catskill Chill this weekend!!

Life, Bass, and Sacred Sandwich Creation with DJ Shiftee

It’s not often that I get the privilege of sharing space-time with a well-mannered Harvard grad who happens to be obsessed with creating cutting-edge bass music and is in constant pursuit of the perfect sandwich. This past Friday, moments before his set at LazerCrunk’s 6th Anniversary party, and coincidentally his sixth time in Pittsburgh, Samuel Zornow a.k.a Shiftee sat down with me to talk some of his favorites, his own encounters with the 3rd kind, and why you should probably name your next pet lizard Shiftee.

Turntablist x DJ x Pad Master :: Shiftee

With a middle name of Morris, the 28 year old DJ/Producer from New York City prefers Mochi Green Tea ice cream, mushrooms over black olives on his pizza (olives are too much of a gamble, he says), and gave up video games after getting 150 stars in Super Mario N64 because, really, where else can you go after that? Staple television shows of his youth include: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Sopranos and Chappelle’s Show. Getting back to the music we ran over his live set up and what genre he prefers to spin given the choice of only one for the rest of eternity.

[Shiftee]: “Well I use 2 Technic turntables, 1 Traktor Kontrol Z2 mixer, 1 Maschine Midi Controller and a laptop. If I had to choose one genre to spin for the rest of my life? Hip-Hop. You can utilize so many different BPMs within the Hip-Hop framework.. I prefer the 70-80 BPM range if we’re getting specific.” Check the link below for a technical breakdown by the man himself.

 **DJ Shiftee’s Traktor + Maschine ‘Slaughterhouse’ Routine (Rinse FM, Joker)**

In the dimly lit lounge we inhabited I couldn’t help but ask where his most frightening performance took place. In a quiet collected voice he replied, “Well there was this club in China where they wouldn’t let us leave. The bouncer was just beating the living crap out of people at the door. I was terrified but eventually we got out and never looked back. Then there was this time at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois when I played this festival out there and the place is 4 hours from the nearest airport so we’re driving in the first limo ever made, the driver gets lost, we somehow break down and are sitting on the side of the road with no cell service and this dude is just kicking his car and losing it while I’m wondering how the hell I’ll get there in time for my set. Eventually some kids on their way to the festival picked me up and all was well.”

Having performed throughout the US and overseas multiple times over the past decade I sensed Shiftee saw some things in his travels so I dug deeper. His most outrageous fan interaction: “After one of my stops in Japan this small man wandered up to me, speechless at first, he could only murmur, ‘Shif- Shif- Shiftee, Shifteeeee’ while shaking harder than I’ve ever seen someone shake! Oh and a random fan told me they named their pet lizard, Shiftee. That was really cool.”

Now, after watching countless videos of his scratch routines and fan-boying over his love of club sandwiches it was time to break into the real meat of our conversation. (Pun intended!) With food on the mind, we chatted about his favorite sandwich and where the best place to chow down on a Shiftee-praised delicacy could be found. He took us to late-night Miami. “The perfect sandwich is like the perfect wine. It’s dependent on your mood, your surroundings and what you’re pairing your sandwich with. If it’s 2am in Miami there’s only one place you should find yourself at- Sandwicherie. I start off with wheat bread, salmon, cornichon (French pickles), some fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, honey mustard and various other unidentifiable adornments.” When asked where’d he like to retire someday he replied, “Nashville and I’d head directly to Mas Tacos. You know, the Mexican sandwich or torta is the closest cousin to the sandwich.” The man knows what he likes and where to find it.

It was soon time for him to head upstairs and on stage so with a final nod towards his recent travels, he commented on his latest cross-country tour covering 9000 miles in a Toyoto Prius. A mighty ditch in Colorado might have swallowed them momentarily, but he only had good things to say about hybrid transportation and the joys of seeing the country by way of wheeled-vehicle. We exchanged pleasantries, laughed about the Friday the 13th-inspired Jason-masks we were sure to see during the show and parted ways. His performance was nothing short of mind-blowing with hundreds of twisted vocal samples, floor-slamming bass frequencies, and plenty of crowd-interaction coming from a master craftsmen who’s love for life and its simple pleasures shines clearly through his positive demeanor and body-spasming bass music. I can’t say enough about Shiftee and his technical prowess on the decks and I hope this glimpse into his world intrigues even the most closed-off music lover into checking out a track or two and maybe dragging themselves out to his next performance. I promise nothing short of perfection.



UV Hippo Stampedes Through the ‘Burgh

Russ Olmsted – lead guitarist of Grand Rapids, Michigan based Ultraviolet Hippopotamus was kind enough to answer a few questions from the Subbassics motherboard in anticipation of this Thursday night’s shakedown at Thunderbird Cafe. After 5 delightfully rich studio albums, countless tours across the US and Europe and a sound that never stops evolving, UV Hippo is a band of heart-warming musicians who deserve a critical ear and some serious dancing shoes. Read on to hear tales of the Tbird’s past, UV Hippo’s present sound-creation process, and what they strive to bring from their latest festival run to Pittsburgh. I hope to see some new and familiar faces out tomorrow night and don’t forget those groovin’ shoes!

Subbassics: “You guys just came off of what looked to be a heater set at DarkStar Jubilee; how was that experience and is there anything you try and bring from a festival set to your smaller venue sets?”

Russel: “Anytime you have the opportunity to be a part of an event like DarkStar Jubilee or Summer Camp you feel honored and humbled because there are such great artists and staff associated with events of that caliber. And the fans that go out to these festivals are just as excited to see and experience the performances as the artists are to provide them. I think that makes for a perfect storm of energy and allows bands to perform to the best of their ability. Festival season is a truly inspiring time of year and DarkStar was no different. It was great to see so many people out raging on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and we look forward to bringing that same type of energy and excitement to our play this weekend.”

Subbassics: “Is there any memorable moments from the handful of times you guys have played here in Pittsburgh? I specifically remember a delicious triple set evening maybe a year ago or more at the Tbird Café. I have all the faith in the world that that will somehow be topped in my list of UV Hippo memories!”

 “When I think of the Thunderbird I always remember the time our Haze Machine wasn’t working for our show. We tour with a decent light rig for club shows and the hazer mists the air with a light water-based haze so you can see the beams on our moving lights. Well it wasn’t working so we had everyone who smoked in the band and crowd light up at once (I don’t even know if you can still smoke at the Thunderbird) and blow the smoke towards the stage so we could see the beams. I got a good laugh out of it and it actually worked! But the crowd interaction there is always fun, people seem to have a great time and it’s a good venue for a nice intimate show.”

Subbassics: “Have you guys made any significant changes to the way you play live and/or produce your albums in the past year or more? How is the evolution of UV Hippo progressing as more and more names are crowding into the jam scene? Does it seems like things are crowded or does everyone have ample space to create/share their sound in the current scene?”

Russel: “Great question. We are always trying new ways to write and come up with new material. I think you have to or you will stagnate creatively. That goes for practicing, performing, and recording. Just like anything in this world the key is to set goals and never become satisfied with what you are performing or how you are performing it. Always seek perfection knowing you’ll never achieve it. Honestly the hardest part about our scene is that you are constantly touring, so finding the time to come up with new material and new ideas is hard. When you get done with an 11 week tour and have 2 weeks off before you head back out, the last thing in the world you want to do is head to the practice space and start working on the next group of songs. But that’s a part of the job and at the end of the day we are lucky to be able to play music and there’s truly nothing we would rather do. As far as the scene getting crowded, I think there is an over saturation of electronic music right now. Please don’t misunderstand there are GREAT electronic musicians and groups out there, but there are festivals that we have been to over the last couple years where you can walk from one stage to the next and feel like you are listening to the same band, or even the same song. From that standpoint I think the scene is a bit too crowded and it’s pushing some of the more progressive style acts to the wayside. That’s not a bad thing, it’s how the art form will continue to grow and evolve, but right now it’s in that in-between stage where I think the scene is waiting to see what the next thing is going to be. It’s always at points like that when art can seem bogged down or over saturated. But really, if things follow the trends they have in the past, I think we will see an explosion of inspiring acts over the next few years.”

Subbassics: “I know you guys have played a few festivals already but what fests/shows are you REALLY excited about and why?”

Russel: “We have played a few that were just amazing. Being a part of Festival 64 in Colorado which was held on 4/20 in celebration of the legalization of marijuana was very special. Regardless of how you feel on the issue, what’s happening in Colorado and Washington is truly historic on so many levels. But we are really looking forward to the The Werk Out (Ohio) in August and Groove Fest (Colorado) in July. We are playing 2 sets at both festivals and have some special things planned for each. I can’t get into what we have planned as it would ruin the surprise but I promise it will be fun. At least I promise we will have fun.”

There ya have it friends! Nothing like some honest words spoken from the mind of a truly expanded musician. Thanks for reading and I challenge you to set your needle in the direction of a UV Hippo show whether it be in Pittsburgh tomorrow evening or somewhere further down the road! You might just be blown away ~

For set times/location/ticket info click: UV Hippo @ Thunderbird 5/29
For more killer shows in the Pittsburgh area check out Grey Area Productions!


‘Forward Escape’ – Dave Tipper’s Latest Paragon In Review

Any electronic music connoisseur knows the name Tipper. Endlessly emotive, vast, and severely technical, the British composer covers bass music genres ranging from ambient to drum & bass, glitch-hop to breakbeat and everything in between while refusing to relent his passion for providing listeners with the deepest caverns of sonic exploration. Dave Tipper’s latest album, Forward Escape, is a nod to the master’s earlier downtempo manifestations while diving towards the outer limits of sound design and ear-drum epilepsy. His 12th full-length release is a sublime adventure through a lush environment of gyrating bass frequencies and magnified soundscapes. Skewed, chopped, and blubbering low-end transmissions marry dreamy orchestral melodies and splashing drops of auditory overflow. The album produces a trembling sensation at the growing awareness of itself and the shocking yet pellucid realization that source flows through all like winged-lava.

Available at: Addictech // Beatport // Bandcamp // Itunes // Amazon

It’s utter nonsense to try and pinpoint the origins of even a fraction of Tipper’s sounds when they’re so textural and so intricately positioned among a colony of other sprouting and retracting noises. They tickle the eardrums as they race up and down an infinite scale of frequencies. If you prefer to stop reading and go buy the album right now (if you haven’t already), then my work is done. If Forward Escape is in your possession and you prefer some accompanying language to the chorus coming from your speakers then please read on.

The journey commences with the fittingly-named track, “Portal Slippage.” A chiming introduction—Tipper throws open the windows and begins the sacred act of turning time to emotion. The pace is steady, fluid, and beautifully chaotic in its variety of elements. My mood ring seizes, the ocean greets my toes. She quietly cries for my immersion into her land of bountiful discovery. The transition into Tipper’s mind-sphere continues with track 2, “Homage Sliders;” soothing in the way a silver stream of Saturn-descent cuts a path through your organs and calls your bloodstream its eternal home. We hear the first emergence of a female voice, soaring for just a moment over a serenading bass guitar line and a refreshing array of clicks and clacks. Tipper slowly flexes his fingers and plucks our soul-strings with this ethereal journey through an untouched pool of ambiance. Onward through the marshland. “Table Flipping” questions the floor with a rhythmic tribal bass-kick as aura-charging solar flares effortlessly glide through a vacuum in no rush at all. Brilliantly defying of all genres the canvas is clear and seems to reinvent itself moment by moment. There’s something sturdy in the foundation and mood of each track – a mystifying truth that spans all of Tipper’s work – something I may be able to express in words later down the road. For now it exists as a subtle warmth inside the walls of my being.

Enter “Grabbers Holders.” Off-kilter finger snaps and laser claps fill the spectrum. Soak. Smile. Rinse. Repeat. This tune will leave your heart soaring on a piece of galactic driftwood; dissolving your internal limits as you find precious stores of energy in each passing arc of light.

At once the mood discovers its own shadow in the form of, “The Bedraggling.” Steeped in eerie cinematic echoes, searing flumes of unhurried frequencies trace constellations in a place not far from home. Digging deeper and deeper into darkness we find the vigor to push forth. The challenges ahead beckon our acute awareness. Wading through aqueous altitudes, our submarine clocks uncharted depths while tropical sounds reminiscent of dry ground disappear. Zippers are yanked open along mountain ridges. Kinfolk clap their approval with the force of a thousand footsteps in cadence. The colossus shape-shifts and my mind’s control room quivers.

The final three tracks are exquisite in their sheer density and require eternal inspection to fully appreciate their encyclopedia of detail. “The Apex of the Vortex,” composes the scene of a sea-borne shell quickly hatching to reveal its garden of pearls inside. Whirring and busy, they infuse my soul’s tendrils with an understanding of all things that lack the capacity to be truly understood. Mystified at the conundrum, I have no choice but to edge forth. And here lies, “Rip Cord.” Broken but gliding, surfing the wave that only exists when you toss your board to the voracious reef; creaking doors swing on crooked hinges while my curiosity thickens. Piano harmonies fill the background. Tension and compression coalesce in the foreground. Cables stretched taunt between canyon peaks slowly fray and unwind in this keystone re-master from Critical Beats for Climate Change (2012) – a compilation release by Bluetech – another rare wizard of conscious omni-tempo bass music. As the final track begins I indulge in pondering if there was ever anything on earth in the first place… “Reverse Dross Maneuver,” assumes its role as final revealer. The dimensional fabric is carefully ripped open exposing the circling orb of origins. Its tentacles sweep the soul clean of debris – the mirror is gleaming and perfect. Clearer now, fortified, the wind breathes life across a fertile landscape always known and, blessedly, forever home.

My sincerest thanks goes out to all those who take the time to appreciate such beautifully diverse studies in bass music composition. No string of words I write can truly express the depth and emotion of Tipper’s sound so let your ears connect the dots.


Turkuaz’s Dave Brandwein Talks Touring and Creative Progression

Brooklyn’s hottest power-funk act, Turkuaz, joins the Alan Evan’s Trio for a heavy-hitting performance at Rex Theater this Saturday night, 4/19. Read more to see just exactly what you’re signing up for…

Turkuaz at Beechland Ballroom Cleveland, OH

 “Hey Dave! Thanks again for taking time to speak with me and let me just say that I love you guys in a HUGE way and can’t thank you enough for all the positive energy you and your music has sent rippling through the airwaves. Turkuaz is truly a phenomenon in my book and I haven’t the slightest doubt much more of the world will agree as you guys spread your sound.”

Dave: “That’s awesome! Thank you.”

Subbassics: “So to start off, I know most of you met at Berklee College of Music in Boston and decided to start making music together around 2008, right? How has the creative process changed from then until now, and to what degree was the dream to be a touring band already in place when things got kicked off?”

Dave: “There wasn’t really an idea of us being a touring band when we started out. Taylor, the bass player, and I had a home studio that I built at our place in Boston when we were at Berklee where we’d make a bunch of demos for fun. We didn’t really have a funk project yet; we were working on a bunch of other things, but that was the music that we most often played for fun. So we started putting together these demos just for the fun of it. We’d kind of make a groove and then I would write lyrics and melodies over it and record it. And a friend of ours submitted the demos to the school’s label, Heavy Rotation Records, who loved it and they wanted us to put the band together and play this showcase for 1000 people at the performance center there and be on their compilation for the year. After some debating we agreed to do it, and at that point we just called all our friends and got a live band together. But, no it wasn’t originally intended as anything. I’m sure we discussed it would be fun to do this live at some point, but that definitely was not the original plan. And although now the band’s obviously been formed and established over a number of years, and now, especially over the past few years, we’ve been touring, the writing process is strangely similar. We still actually demo things out to begin with, make a groove – you know Taylor, myself, the other guys – and then I’ll sit and kind of write it over that. There’s been only a few cases during the writing process for our songs that I’ll actually sit with a guitar or sit at a piano and do it, although it does happen occasionally. But because it’s such groove oriented, and such fun and, even at times, chaotic music it’s hard to just sit and write it with an instrument. It really helps to have a groove to loop as you come up with ideas over it. So although the band has evolved and changed a lot that writing process is strangely similar.”

Subbassics: “Demos! Nice! So as you guys climb the ranks and play bigger shows does the absence of a certain level of intimacy effect your sound or attitude while playing? Is that intimacy something you guys consciously create every time no matter the size of the crowd/venue?”

Dave: “Definitely, I mean I think that’s something that is evolved over time. Although I mentioned that we played to a huge audience our first time playing that obviously didn’t continue to be the case for a few years. As we kind of had to get out there and play clubs we had to get used to much more intimate, much smaller venues. I think that was good for us starting out because it’s easy to pump up the energy level and get people involved, and get people dancing, and excited when you’re in a tighter space because it hits you a little bit harder; it more of, again, has sort of a chaotic feel to it. It gets people sweaty and dancing and that’s something I think we got good at early on. Then there was a transitional period where occasionally we played bigger rooms and I think it took getting used to on our part. It’s a very different feeling, and I think we struggled with it the first several times. You know, occasionally we’ll go out west or somewhere where we’re still building our fan base and we end up in those really tiny rooms again and sometimes it is really fun, but I felt in the past year for the first time, man I’m actually finally more comfortable in bigger venues, bigger stages and festivals and obviously it’s a good thing because that’s where we want to end up at more and more. There’s definitely an art to both that not only includes the way you play but also the setlist and the type of songs you play and even the order of the songs or just knowing your audience. There’s a lot that goes into playing to your audience and playing to your venue. There’s a lot of things that go into that. And it’s something that I think even the best bands continue to get better at to this day. Bruce Springsteen and Phish, they obviously have the most experience with that kind of stuff. I think it’s something you never stop getting better at hopefully.”

Subbassics: “I recently ran into 3 guys on the street outside the Theater you’ll be playing at this Saturday. They looked up at the marquee and couldn’t believe you guys were coming to town and asked me if I knew about Berklee. I said, I don’t know much about it, but that place sure bred some badass musicians. They said, “See ya Saturday!” Exchanges like that remind me just how universal music can be and how broad of an audience your specific brand of raw funk attracts. Was there ever any discussion about what type of crowd would come out to Turkuaz shows?”

Dave: “I think that early on when we were doing everything ourselves and we were fresh out of school we didn’t think about that. We’d book a show anywhere that they’d have us, we’d show up and play, and tell all our friends and hopefully they’d tell all their friends and that went on for a while. And I think that although we don’t ever want to pigeon hole ourselves and say we’re the right band for this type of audience and not this other one we kind of figured at a certain point that we should try and gear ourselves toward the festival and jam scene because that’s where a lot of real music lovers and appreciators are putting their time and energy and the type of fans that that scene is attracting – that’s the type of fans we want to attract and although we’re not a jam band at some point we did start moving towards that scene especially upon choosing our booking agent and management. But, now were sort of remembering or trying to remember that there’s a wide demographic even within that scene. You have people ranging from ages 20 to 60 going to see shows in that scene, and I think, luckily for us, we do have a slightly wider appeal than some more instrumental jam bands or some bands that don’t do as many vintage-styled cover songs. We have a lot of synth elements, some more modern elements and a lot more classier soul Motown elements and I think for that reason we appeal to a wider variety of people.”

Subbassics: “What is the biggest challenge as well as the most appreciated aspect of travelling and performing with 8 other musical gurus? For you personally, where do you find solace when you need it in the middle of a tour?”

Dave: “The bathroom and shower. *chuckles* But, really, we’re all such good friends; a band in the true sense of the word that we operate well in close quarters and quickly learned how to live together in such a tight space. Everyone is friends first and foremost so we rarely have issues and know when and how best to communicate our qualms to one another.”

Subbassics: “If you had a day to spend with George Clinton of P-Funk what would you do?”

Dave: “Ha ha, I’d probably have to party with him, let him take the lead. Eli of Dopapod and I drove out to Connecticut to catch the end of a Funkadelic set one night and through a friend of ours working on the crew we got to hang with George for about 30 seconds. They’re such a huge multi-membered funk band so they obviously have that down and are deep in their stride so I’d have to let him take the lead and do whatever he was doing.”

Subbassic: “Tell me a little bit about ‘Future 86’ your newest album. Are there any moments along the journey you recall really stepping outside your boundaries as a band to attain something fresh and experimental? In what ways does your vision change throughout the recording process or does it remain relatively rooted from the beginning?”

Dave: “’Future 86′ was recorded over a pretty long period of time. When our tour schedule got really hectic it was hard to find long stretches to be in the studio. We actually recorded most of it in my studio in Brooklyn. I’d say the biggest cause of a change in the idea for the song… something would happen live and we’d go, alright we need to incorporate that now in the recording. So we’d go back and make sure something was included. In certain cases we’d say, you know, the recording is this way and then the live version is this way – that’s why people come to live shows. So we were willing to let there be a difference in the way a song was approached in the studio versus live but, overall I think the goal was to try and capture the energy of those songs. Each song does have a pretty different feel in some ways on that album; stuff that’s pretty heavy-rock, stuff that’s more soul old school Motown feeling, some stuff that’s more synth-driven, some straight funk kind of stuff too. So I think one of our goals to begin with, and that was still achieved until we reach the end, was to go with a range of styles while keeping some center through the whole project. I think that stayed on course and really the things that changed were the things that developed live which sometimes is a curse, but in this case was cool so we could go back and create a best-of for each song.”

Subbassics: “Well, Dave, thanks again for the wonderful insight into the growing, morphing sound machine that is Turkuaz. I wish you all the safest of travels and we can’t wait to party with you Saturday evening!”

For the love of all things funky get your ducks in a zig-zag and don’t miss TURKUAZ along with the legendary Alan Evan’s Trio opening the night starting at 9pm Saturday at Rex Theater. The show is brought to you by Grey Area Productions.

More info on location, times, and tickets can be found at: