Newsletter Signup


June 23rd, 2014


Bassnectar - Noise vs Beauty - the new album

Creating this album was an awesome, interactive, cathartic experience. I got to collaborate with so many interesting people, try so many different approaches and techniques (at times pretending I was in some crazy band creating a wildly diverse rock album but then at other times getting to go back and remix myself). I went off the deep end for months – completely submerged in creative ideas and free to revisit all of my most special influences, memories and concepts, propelling them further into the collective consciousness of the future.

As with any album, there were so many songs that did not make the final cut (some of which I spent weeks working on). Some songs I worked hard with other artists or vocalists on, and some of them I scrapped and looted for parts. But the 15 songs I chose in the end represent exactly how I want NVSB to sound: diverse & eclectic – a throwback to classic styles while looking ahead to the future.

I want to share a few notes about each song here:

1. F.U.N.
I made this song with Seth Drake as a follow up to our collaboration from a few years back called Above & Beyond…. It’s a complex song because it essentially starts with an original symphony composed by Seth, which we then ripped apart and remixed into a new state. For years I have wanted to create and release music which simply sounds like a “film score,” because these can be so tender, gripping and emotive…and freeform in structure. It is extremely fun to interact with a symphony track-by-track, almost like a ghost getting to sit in with an orchestra who possesses each instrument or musician – playing their parts, tweaking them, flipping them and reversing them 🙂 I look forward to making a lot more music in this vein and we hope you have fun deciphering the acronym of this song’s title…

I am a rabid fan of Rye Rye – she is one of the sickest vocalists I know – truly raw & original. We wanted to work together for a long time and after sending her a dozen optional beats, I decided to send her Rap with a T – the instrumental for my Vava Voom remix (that beat has been one of the sonic climaxes of every set since I started playing it in the Summer of 2012 – but it was never officially released)… We got together in LA @ Red Star Studio and spent 5 hours busting out the lyrics and vocals for this song. I was gonna just release it on top of the Vava remix beat, but then of course the workaholic in me took over. As time passed, I kept adding new bits and replacing old bits until there was basically a ‘new’ version of the music. This is one of those beautiful bombs I am sooooo excited to fling at crowds for years to come.

Obviously, this is Raw Charles’ insane mutant cousin – totally straight-for-the-throat bass music mayhem. I actually don’t really want to say anything more about this song besides here you go…have fun…good luck 🙂

This song came out exactly how I envisioned it in my mind. I had the honor of working with Jade Puget, whose guitar work is absolutely brilliant to me. It reminds me of some epic U2 rock song or something. After working with several amazing vocalists on this song, W. Darling’s vocals fit just right. The lyrics capture that unbreakable emotion of friendship, loyalty, and being “in it together, until the end,” like some Thelma & Louise type of scenario… Thinking back to so many awesome friendships I have enjoyed where two humans stand by each other through thick and thin, and the bond grows stronger because of that perseverance. If there are any Absolute Meanings in life, I think that is one of them: pure, wonderful, interactive human relationships. I love that feeling.

Longtime collaborators Zion I & Jantsen guaranteed this song would be a TKO before it even began, but it all started with Fashawn (whose vocals I used in my remix of Amp Live’s Hot Right Now). Fashawn and I worked together on lyrics which were meaningful to us – and these lyrics are a double entendre to the max. Feeling “lost in the crowd” to me is both positive and negative. In the positive sense, it’s that sensation of dissolving into a larger group experience – maybe on a dance floor when you close your eyes and forget your name, surrendering to the music and the people around you – momentarily existing as one unified human Super-Organism. The flip of it is feeling like an Outsider…feeling like you don’t belong, or you are one of the freaks & weirdos compared to the cookie cutter mainstream and numb-minded sheep. For me it had a lot to do with “EDM” which I see becoming this pop culture facade of unauthentic artists and unauthentic music when it started from something SO special. Then the second half of that chorus is about mainstream hip hop lyrics (another musical genre which started from SUCH DEEPLY AUTHENTIC AND POWERFUL beginnings) which too often seem to celebrate total ignorance, and too rarely address anything aside from drugs, sex, & money. Zumbi came through on the verses (once again!) and of course writing music with Jantsen is effortless – we have been collaborating for almost a decade now 🙂

This is probably my favorite song on the entire album. It began ten years ago in what feels like a completely different universe. It was something I intended to finish and include on almost every album I have created, but never got around to finishing. Now I’m happy to finally let it fly. Since I was a child, one of my favorite words is “eternal,” but it’s antonym is just as special. “Ephemeral” means “temporary” – something which won’t last forever, and will likely vanish suddenly. It’s a reminder to be grateful for every micro-second of life because it is beyond special, beyond magical, beyond comprehension – and it will disappear in the blink of an eye 🙂

Eons ago I worked on a remix for an artist called “Dorfex Bos” – one of my all time favorite producers of carousel downtempo & abstract acid jazz (to be honest his music defies category for me), and we decided to work on a song together last winter. Writing under the name TURSI, he sang a bunch of ideas into a voice recorder and we went back and forth until suddenly there was this truly beautiful piece of music – I still can’t listen to this song without getting chills. There is an original version which is much longer and flushed out, but this album version is nice because it keeps progressing from one section to the next, never returning back to anything, always changing and evolving. The main lyrics say “In my memories you hold on to me. Hold On…”

The process of creating this song was complex because it is essentially multiple tracks smashed together into one insane swamp monster mutation. The song kicks off with big 808s which I worked on with several vocalists. In the end, I wanted to go with the vocals by Donnis because his lyrics were like an anthem to me: “I do what I wanna do, that’s all that ever mattered. Never been one to chase what these other people been after. Fame means nothing to me. Their Names mean nothing to me. So if you’re saying I changed, it’s clear that you never knew me” – in terms of creativity this sums up my mentality about amorphous music perfectly. I had this hook in my mind “I do what I wanna do, I do what I liiiiiiike” about each person’s unique preferences and how I think everyone should just focus on what they love and enjoy it. Then there was the “make some noise” sample which I had been wanting to use for more years than I can count, and that drop is like a mix of Cozza Mega, The Churn Of The Century, Blast Off, and Here We Go all rolled into one big face melter. Mayor Apesh!t came through last minute with a vocal style that harkens back to late ’90s raves, in the drum&bass side room, when the ceilings were low, the room was drenched, and everyone was going completely buck wild.

This song was a collaborative pleasure. Musically it’s like a hybrid of Hexes & Timestretch. Lyrically it’s both about looking forward into the unknown, but also about surrendering to an experience which is beautiful, overwhelming, healing, and overpowering. Tons of thanks to Jenna Sousa for all the amazing work in the studio.

In January 2014 when I was deep in the middle of essentially 6 months off tour, this song was stuck in my mind constantly. The lyrics “it’s no use when we’re apart” were about how much I missed playing shows, and sharing music, and all the beautiful people who beam it right back: they are my ammunition to keep going. “I just want you to Open Up” was kind of like a love song to those fans and also to humanity in general. Everyday you can see the evil in humanity (the cruelty, the greed, the struggle) but also the tenderness (the love, the compassion, the good will) …and this song is just about letting go and feeling connected. Massive thanks to Simon, who not only sings on this song, but engineered the vocal sessions for both Open Up and The Future.

Amp Live & I have this side project called “Parts Department” where we just trade ideas and parts together and see what happens. Musically this song is different from a lot of my material, but that’s what I love about it. When I first started DJing, my favorite moments weren’t the drops. They were the unexpected curveballs, the strange moments, the unexpected. So to anyone who doesn’t understand this song, maybe that’s why its called “Mystery Song”… Although if you listen back through my discography there are a lot of tracks which are pretty much “Huh?” moments stylistically (Yo, Verbing The Noun, Before We Dissolve, Force of Suction, Inspire The Empathic, etc). So anyway, enough about the music. Samantha’s vocals struck me like a blast from the past. Like a mix of Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Bangles, and that girl riot era – this song has been stuck in my head for MONTHS. It feels kind of like 007 secret agent adventure music, and also like someone is about to tell you a secret but they are speaking in code.

I started using 808 bass samples in one of my first Psy Trance songs in 1996. I recognized it from NWA and Run DMC songs, but I wanted to use it as the Kick Drum. I would use the big boom sound instead of a normal rave kick, and layer crazy percussion and drums on top of it like some Super-Power drum circle, and then lace it with synths. Then of course old school jungle records & early drum & bass were all about the 808, and soon I noticed it everywhere. Years and years later, as an artist I don’t know where I would be without such a special weapon, so Lafa’s vocals were just perfect – “I got nothing but love for the hater, but try to shut us down and you get the DARTH VADER”…you just can’t hate the 808…

13. GNAR
I am a long time fan of drum & bass. The Upbeats are a two man production outfit whose music I have caned for years now, and we decided to make a track together. We ended up not even making drum & bass, but this song to me is just pure, deep, heavy goodness. ALSO: it reminds me of a pogo stick, kind of bouncing around wildly.

This was another mega-complex piece of music. It started out with a song I wrote called “Zero Gravity” which I worked for at least three months with several incredible vocalists, and it sounded like a symphony of guitar and piano and sound effects. One thing led to another, and then the guitar parts I played over top of it became this kind of cinematic introduction which I just wanted to let play as instrumental music. Then there was this old trip hop tune with a vocal sample “I really like it” which I remember hearing one morning at a full moon party out on the beach in Santa Cruz. Long story short, that sample made my brain pop in delicious ways, and I wanted to nod back to that moment (and to the purity of that personal experience with music where it just makes you smile). Then the second half was kind of intended to feel as slow motion as possible, but still heavy as fuck. I used a Sylenth patch created by Ummet Ozcan, which was so catchy and lush, and decided to just make the most hyper lush extended outro possible 🙂

This song has many forms, originally released with shards of Noam Chomsky’s voice speaking about important philosophical insights. At one point he says “Privilege confers responsibility. You can face that Responsibility, which may not be easy: but it’s easier for us than for people in almost all the world. Or you can shirk the Responsibility, in which case you’re leaving The Future to be determined by forces which are anything but benign…” Nearly 15 years ago, that concept struck me with extreme force. I was in college at the time, living a privileged American life. I was from a middle class family and I was at a University living in California. I had immediate access to clean, hot water, delicious food, and all my necessities were not only effortlessly met, but exceeded. Beyond my necessities, I was overwhelmed by the privileges of enjoying music constantly. My friends and I threw free outdoor full moon parties each month, I spent countless hours writing music and DJing, …I was (and am) privileged in countless ways. Compared to the millions of humans alive today who live in squalor, who live through genocide, war, famine, disease, horror… Most of us in a 1st World country who enjoy the privileges of modern life (like cell phones, the internet, etc) can easily forget how good we have it, because we take it for granted. Noam Chomsky believes that this kind of overwhelming privilege confers some kind of responsibility: whether to look out for the less fortunate, or to keep a loud & critical eye open to the most powerful ruling class (the media, corporations, elite wealthy, and governments which prioritize control over human rights). I’ve been immeasurably inspired by that.

This collection of songs is a public expression of how thankful I am to be alive, with each song representing an individual point across a diverse spectrum of experience. I want to give thanks for the tremendously eclectic range of emotion I feel in life, and beam a reflection back at every flashing, sparkling light that shines toward me, even temporarily, from all directions of the dark eternal universe. Thank you.

Click here to get the album direct and check out NVSB bundles.

Click here to get the album via iTunes.

Click here to check out NVSB Tour 2014 dates.