Monday, November 8, 2010

The New Freedom of Sound

            Today’s musical culture is ignited by new sounds. The European electronic influence is even touching the base with the artists on top of the charts in U.S. As the new era of dub-step and techno flows through us, DJs rise to the top as they combine extreme sounds with influential songs to produce an impactful sound daze. The thirty-two year old Lorin Ashton from San Francisco California introduced his creative intellect and love for music long before the popular era of dub-fluential and techno music. Starting of surrounded by underground music in his teenage year, he quickly learned how to move on to the top. Going by the name Bassnectar, his creation of the nineties, the freeform electronic artist began his journey as an influential DJ and producer.


            Bassnectar describes his music as "A free-form project that merges music, art, new media, social involvement, and community values; dedicated to a constantly evolving ethos of collaborative creation, self reinvention, and boundary-pushing experimentation."  One of his mixes takes on the ambient style of Fever Ray in her song “When I Grow Up.” The mix begins with a low beat bass, which sets up the structure of the song. Not many people realize that the first beat is always the most outstanding; to me it becomes the constant part of the song distinguishable amongst all others.  Following right after is a “wobble” bass, which tends to be used by many dustep musicians. The sounds start of in intervals, what come in layers that add on to create the song. I noticed that once the beat comes in, it plays throughout the whole song, in this case until the drop in the beat comes in the end.  The sound drowns you me in with the soft clapping in the background. In reality the sound appears to be too distant to distinguish without the distractions of other beats. The artist makes the addition of whistling, this sound reaches out to catch the final attention of the listener. This reminds me of something a long the lines of tribal sounds. As one sound adds on top of another, Ashton’s flawless manner of creating strange sounds appeal in an ear catching harmony. His way of speaking is in the beat; he creates the rise of emotion within us.
The songs are impossible to describe, as the sound takes on a new meaning to each and different listener. The artist makes us decide on our own. Because whatever we really think about the song, we will always merely question what Ashton thought or meant to create through it. Where lies the purpose of that artist to build up such an emotional effect in the song? Maybe the purpose is to embrace each and every sound as it first appears in the song, to allow the listeners to drown in the song as they wait till the song builds up to the climax.  Or is it to allow the listener to acknowledge how Bassnectar actually came up with the over all song, as in some kind of blueprint. Perhaps it is his master plan to create a constant, a beat that just sticks in our minds automatically. Once the beat sticks in our memory, we will always reach out to listen to such song again in order to feed what our memory craves.
As if the complete adoration to Bassnectar’s technological mix wasn’t enough, he brings in the unexpected. Vocals that seems, as they shouldn’t belong in the collaboration are added to the mix. Bassnectar explores the basic beats of the song as well as the artist’s vocals in “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray. The song is from her first album as a solo artist back in 2009. She strays away from just allowing the lyrics to take on all the meaning.  The Swedish native places the influence of the song in her tones, which can be seen throughout her whole album. “I already know what my own voice sounds like, so I think it’s much more interesting to treat it as an instrument and treat it the same way I treat other instruments. But with the vocals I cannot only change the pitch, but the gender,” said Karin Dreijer Andersson, the lead of Fever Ray. Her vocals both shrill and deep bring pitch shifting, as well as distorted tones lead to an ambient and experimental feel to the music. In simpler words, even the artists that Bassnectar chooses to collaborate with are flawless examples of intuitive and unheard of manner of tone. He takes on the mainstream ideal of the song, but creates an uncorking of the piece of music. This not only adds energy to such song, but also creates a mass appeal that drowns many in the intoxicating sound.
My iPod is filled to the brim with music from many eras, cultures, and genres. Even after exploring Bassnectar’s music with more attention to the sound, it is hard for me to describe him in a distinctive way. From day to day, I hear music that can simply be generalized as “country” or “rap” or “pop.” Bassnectar does not achieve his music in a single solution, but rather uses multiple techniques of composition to create his collaborations. The sudden shifts in the meters, as well as speeds of electronic tempo make up the composers music. The new sounds bring me a sense of a new perspective. With new perspectives come new ideas, followed by outburst of my creativity. I advise anyone who is not afraid of the thumb of the bass and inorganic sounds to listen to what Bassnectar calls, "an amalgamation of every sound I've ever heard, mixed with ultra wicked basslines."

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