Forever the Electronic Nomad, Bassnectar’s “Omni-Tempo” Sound is Still Sticky & Sweet


The electronic nomad Ashton Lorin, better known as Bassnectar, has succeeded at creating an eclectic and diverse album that within minutes has you unintentionally bobbing your head in appreciation. His album Divergent Spectrum, released on August 2nd, 2011 through his label Amorphous Music, provides us with something more than just your typical dubstep album. Bassnectar’s most recent album explores all facets of electronic music mixed with hard-hitting dubstep beats.

Bassnectar, a California based DJ and producer, is famous for his electronic mixes and combining mainstream music with intense bass lines and the popular “wobble” bass used by a variety of dubstep musicians. For those not familiar with the dubstep genre, it is a type of electronic dance music that originated in London, England. Dubstep music is most associated with prodigious bass lines, reverberant drum patterns and clipped samples and is often, but not always combined with vocals. A common characteristic of dubstep is the wobble bass, which makes quite a few appearances in the Divergent Spectrum album. It can be described as an extended bass note that is manipulated rhythmically and is typically produced by using a low frequency oscillator (an electronic signal that creates rhythmic pulses or sweep that are used to modulate synthesizers) to manipulate various parameters of a synthesizer (including volume, distortion and filter cutoff).

However, Bassnectar is not solely a dubstep musician. His songs, especially in this album, present his use of various techniques of composition, whether it is a shift in meter and timings or enveloping a unique multiplicity of layers of synthesized harmonies, rappers and singers. Another interesting factor of his music is his use of various tempos that ensures the captivity of his listeners. He uses a wide-ranging scale of speeds to create what he calls “omni-tempo maximalism,” meaning that all speeds, time signatures and rhythms are possible and in-turn creating a mixture of every sound you’ve ever heard. Surprisingly enough, this does not cause his tracks to sound overwhelming and instead flourishes the listeners’ motivation to listen to every song in the album.

The first album in the track, “Upside Down,” is a typical dub track with attractive bass lines and is most reminiscent of the more popular mainstream dub music we find playing in clubs and on the radio. This was a great track to start off the album for it is full of sirens, robotic and pitched down vocals and an overall appealing mix of sounds that would especially interest fans of heavy dubstep music. Other tracks like “The Matrix,” “Red Step” and “Heads up” are also upbeat songs on the album that would fit well in a dance party playlist.

The album also includes less upbeat tracks like “Boomerang,” which with its synth-like melodies is much more ominous with lots of bass and wobble. The song “Afterthought” is also a much more relaxed electronica track with ambient tones mixed with calm clapping beats. The album also includes three remixes, ” Plugged in,” “Immigraniada” (Gorgol Bordello) and “Lights” (Ellie Goulding), which all present segments of the original songs mixed with pieces of heavy dubstep and wobbly bass lines characteristic of Bassnectar’s pieces.

Overall, the album presents a variety of songs that are not all similar in nature and are not all typically dubstep and electronic. There are, however, pieces in the album that do not add much to the mix. An example of this is the song “Above and Beyond” which felt more like white noise serving as filler track for the album. Divergent Spectrum, which within the first 10 hours of being released reached number 6 on iTunes Top 10 for album sales, lives up to its hype. It offers a collection of tracks that are representative of the signature trendy, bass-exploding, head-lolling hits that put Bassnectar on the map but also includes necessary low-key tracks to balance out the mix. The Best part of the album is that it successfully incorporates Bassnectar’s take on many genres including anthem rock, heavy dubstep, and hip-hop, ensuring that listeners will, at the very least, find one song on the album that they will instantly be adding to their iTunes library.

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