2018 was a big year for bass music. From the 150 plus tracks we reviewed this year it was hard to just trim it down to 15. Most of the biggest tracks came from albums that really stood out in the bass music landscape from the boom bap bass of Ivy Lab, SHADES, and Great Dane to bass house producers Jauz and Taiki Nulight to the freeform bass antics of the Wakaan label, Rezz, and G Jones. 2019 is around the corner and we can't wait for what next year has in store for the bass music world!
1) IVY LAB - 'CAKE' [20/20LDN]
Ivy Lab, the UK bass unit consisting of producers Stray and Sabre, delivered one of the best bass music albums of the year with Death Don’t Always Taste Good. “Cake” is a halftime bass tune that punches hard, while still floating on melodic textures and off kilter samples. The drop beckons a rewind each time it hits. “Boi I got my mind on cake!”
2) LIQUID STRANGER & SPACE JESUS - 'DRAGONHAWKS' [WAKAAN]
Liquid Stranger’s WAKAAN label consistently dropped quality releases in 2018. CONVOY, which was released in April, showcased 23-tracks highlighting the best in “freeform bass.” “Dragonhawks” by Liquid Stranger and Space Jesus was a real winner filled with medieval samples before a slapping bassline drops you into a dark abyss of sounds. Clocking in at over six minutes, the track takes you on a cinematic journey of bass.
3) FLAVA D – ‘ACTING STANK [NIGHT BASS]
Night Bass didn’t let us down in 2018. Flava D’s debut EP on the imprint, Spicy Noodles, fit perfectly into the labels cross section of garage, house, and bassline sounds. "Acting Stank" is a sassy bass house driven single whose synth melodies and infectious vocal sample became a Summer anthem. Bounce to this.
4) REZZ – “NIGHTMARE ON REZZ STREET” (HALLOWEEN MIX) [DUBSET MEDIA]
REZZ had a big year by releasing her sophomore album Certain Kind of Magic and headlining festivals worldwide. During a busy 2018 she also managed to drop her surprise mix A Nightmare on Rezz Street on Halloween featuring 30 minutes of unreleased REZZ music accompanied by an epic video directed by Cam MacNeill. Definitely a treat.
5) G JONES - "ARBITER'S THEME" [ILLUSORY RECORDS]
2018 saw the release of G Jones’ debut album filled with 11 tracks fueled by mind benders and club smashers. "Arbiter's Theme" starts off with an ethereal vocal hook before it builds up into a synth heavy drum workout that changes up throughout, keeping it fresh and funky.
6) SHADES – ‘ALARMA’ FT. KILLA P [DEADBEATS]
SHADES, consisting of two of the bass music scenes experimentalists Alix Perez and EPROM, unveiled their debut album In Praise of Darkness and it didn’t disappoint. Dark, moody, bass heavy, and infectious are just some of the words that would describe the dozen tracks. “Alarma” features the spitfire vocals of Killa P over industrial drenched beats and echoing bass.
7) PEEKABOO – ‘MANIAC’ [WAKAAN]
PEEKABOO really carved a name for himself in 2018 with prolific releases on the Wakaan label. Underpinned by growling basslines and sprinkled with neatly cut chops and samples, his track “MANIAC” is a slice of heaven for those who like their beats off-centre and wild.
8) HABSTRAKT – “ABOUT YOU” [NEVER SAY DIE RECORDS]
Habstrakt delivered the goods on “About You” on the Never Say Die Records imprint earlier this year. Fusing haunting tones with his bouncy bass house flavors, while keeping it anchored in a boisterous bassline. Part dubstep, part trap, part bass house, but 100% banger. This one tears apart.
9) JAUZ & HOLY GOOF – “BACK AGAIN” [BITE THIS]
Juaz hands down had the most diverse bass music album of 2018 from dubstep to future bass, and techno to midtempo with old school rave vibes as well. He really shines on his bass house productions and “Back Again” is another winner with the help of UK producer Holy Goof.
10) TAIKI NULIGHT – “MURKY MANOR" [NIGHT BASS]
Taiki Nulight’s title track from his debut album is a great example of the cross sections of styles the producer so gracefully merges. With hints of garage, house and bassline, the eleven tracks breath, bounce and boom.
11) GREAT DANE – ‘SORRY STEVE’ [ADBC]
LA beatsmith Great Dane delivered one of the strongest bass music releases of the year with Gamma Ray. “Sorry Steve” is a perfect marriage of parts between the beat scene and the bass music world. The song claps hard with low-end bass weight over boom bap beats and scattered samples, making the listener either want to head bang or just chill out and get lost in it. Your choice.
12) TIM PARKER – ‘RULES’ [20/20 LDN]
London radio host, producer, and tastemaker Tim Parker debuted his impressive solo EP on Ivy Lab’s 20/20 LDN imprint called Slanted back in July. “Rules” kicks off the tracklisting showcasing how Parker has developed a distinct solo sound, tipping his cap to the dancefloor whilst encapsulating the instrumentation of golden-era hip-hop, jazz-infusions, combined with deep low end bass.
13) GORGON CITY – “GO DEEP” (ZED’S DEAD REMIX)
Zed’s Dead remixes Gorgon City’s “Go Deep” and gives it a lush uplifting vibe filled with pulsing basslines and slapping drums.
14) ATLIENS - 'INTERSTELLAR' (FEAT. SARA SKINNER) [ORACLE MUSIC]
The mysterious silver masked duo by the name of ATLiens bring a blend of funky, experimental bass on their "Interstellar" single. The track opens with deceptively soft, melodic chords coupled with Sara Skinner's smooth and wistful vocals. The dynamic changes swiftly with the onslaught of heavy-hitting percussion and robotic synths that drive the track home.
15) DANNY BYRD - 'SALUTE' FEAT. MC GQ [HOSPITAL RECORDS]
Danny Byrd returned in 2018 in a big way with the release of his album Atomic Funk. The lead single from the album teams up Danny Byrd with MC GQ on “Salute,” a throwback to the pioneering jungle sound, brought straight into 2018. A funky guitar intro leads into a fanfare of live recorded horns, keeping things rooted with sub-heavy bass and nostalgic broken-beats that rises as the lyrical wordplay from GQ begins - the perfect match for Danny’s amen-laden drumwork.
About the Author:
Ryan Romana is part of KOOP’s electronic music show DPX Hi-Test, which airs every Friday night at 7pm CT on http://koop.org. He is based in Austin, TX where you can find him mountain biking or checking out new music.