Transmission is the debut LP from London-based producer Basher, and what a debut it is. The thirteen track album showcases exactly why Basher is signed to drum and bass’ leading label RAM Records, and why his debut LP is one of the most anticipated of the year.
The introduction of the album, Androids, gives the first blow that Tyson would be proud of. Random noises take you to a dark and eerie place. You feel nervously curious. You are afraid of what is about to happen. Suspense is building through the muted drums. You can feel it coming.
This is it. Here it comes. “Get up!” And BAM! The first drop of the album does not disappoint. That classic amen drum loop drives the song forward whilst the bass steam rolls anything and everything that dare crosses its path. It is dirty, it is heavy; it is dark. Androids is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Digging deeper in to the dark and eerie tunnel are Frequency and Devotion, the latter being the better tune out of the two. Sub bass and minimal drums make Devotion a stand out track. The bass and tempo create a sound so thick that it is almost warming. This combined with a whispered deep house vocal, “you make me feel so good”, leaves a sweet taste in the mouth.
The energy is constant throughout making it harder to stay still to this song than it is to move. On the other hand, Frequency doesn’t quite work as well. It has an interesting jagged drop and there is lots going on, but there is nothing to grab hold of. When it drops, it doesn’t quite kick in with the energy desired.
It is a dark tune that summons the listener through the soft female vocal: “come to me”, however it is unclear as to whether this track is a frustrating release of energy or an abstracted piece of art. Convulsions unfortunately follows suit and acts as more of a filler than killer. When it drops, it lacks impact although this song could work well in a set as a transitional track.
Putting the album back on course for success is a change of direction through the only dubstep track on the album, As We Fall. Dubstep haters do not fret because it stays in character of the album by being dark and dirty, and it does not get bogged down like a lot of other dubstep. The drums are still very much drum and bass, but the bass is thick and powerful. It is disgusting in a good sense. Another female vocal comes from Ms Wendy that lifts the track above the rest. “Look in to my eyes”: this is a great hypnotic tune that reinvigorates the album.
Xerox is probably the finest tune on this release with Plastic Faces being the closest challenger. It has the fastest drums, the biggest drop, the most energy, and a name that nobody understands (I believe a better name would be Brutal). The ever popular amen drum loop is at full throttle in this devastatingly hard-hitting soon to be classic. Plastic Faces features Verdict and Amber Melody and is the most accessible track on the album. Stunning bassline and addictive vocals leave this tune in your head all day long.
Unlike Xerox, System Shock has the most obvious name on the album. It fully represents what the happens in the track. Basher drops System Shock not on the first beat but on the second beat in the bar leaving listeners and fellow ravers completely off step. It is a clever move rather than stupid though. It works well and offers a bit of variety and fun to Transmission LP.
The title track and Bamboozle offer less in terms of uniqueness or big drops but still they have their own sound and identity. Both tracks come with deep and heavy bass lines and a sense of purpose. Transmission has the potential to be great.
It starts with fast drums and lots of energy however the drop doesn’t bring the room down. Although it is still neat and tidy and in no way a filler track, there are better numbers on the LP. Bamboozle sounds more like an experimental track than anything else. Lots of different drums and sounds are used, including bongos, but overall the track doesn’t get anywhere.
Fortunately the same cannot be said for Nevada, which takes an old skool approach to drum and bass. Keys that are almost techno play a looping riff over raging jungle drums, spacious bass fills the gaps, and the occasional eagle cry and jungle sound adds effect to this great tune. The breakdown comes along and completely kicks the arse out of the rest of the track. It leaves the song black and blue from its hard punches and heavy bass. This track is a fantastic example of current drum and bass producers learning from their elders. Please enjoy responsibly (and in the sunshine).
Another sunshine track is the beautiful Ultra Violet. This tune is very close to liquid drum and bass. The bass is a constant roll of funky thunder stabilising the distorted stabs of the synthesizer. The atmosphere is chilled wherever you are when listening to this song. There is not as much going on as there is in previous tracks but in this case less is definitely more.
The album ends on Scripture, another track showcasing what Basher is about. This time he is joined by Xtrah and Tactical Thinking for a grimey lyrical attack that makes countless references to science and religion. Spitting: “These words fall from destruction like acid rain, ripping up scripture, it’s binary paraphrase, the savage fester runs right through the barren days, Won’t matter to manufacture gamma rays”. Grime, dirt, and heaviness are strife in the last song, but it does not feel like the last song. It does not close the album in a sufficient way. Devotion would be a much better song to end the album with.
Nevertheless, track listing aside, at times this album feels like it is getting stuck in deep mud and it cannot get out. The listeners are left waiting for the next big drop or exciting drum pattern, but Transmission LP is more of a gallery than a complete work of art. The album demonstrates what Basher has to offer, and more than anything I see potential. It is Basher’s debut LP and it is a great debut. There are a few great tracks and a few experimental tracks but overall a job very well done.
Is it worth buying? Yes, absolutely.
Top Tracks: Ultra Violet, Xerox, Plastic Faces