Saturday, 29 May 2010

Herve - Ghetto Bass 2 (Cheap Thrills)

The main problem with Herve’s music, and that of a lot of his ilk – the whole fidget/blog house thing, mixed in with a bit of bassline for good measure – is that it’s typically so functional, so perfectly one dimensional, that it almost invariably comes across as a little sterile. Well, unless your idea of a good time is tweaking a synthesizer’s bass settings until it sounds like elastic sandpaper. The best dance music has real thought behind it and a bit of compositional nous, especially if a track is to last for longer than a couple of months in the clubs. Herve’s last Ghetto Bass compilation was fun but throwaway, and a difficult listen outside of a club environment due to its relatively relentless nature; this two disc sequel, imaginatively titled Ghetto Bass 2, picks up where that left off but offers more in the way of subtlety. Just a little of the stuff, but it goes a long way.

The first disc offers much the same fare as the first volume of the series: nervy, abrasive house, offset with chants, sliced vocals and a general sense of chaos. Proper dancefloor material then, and tough to absorb without a headful of some cheap stimulant or other. Max Morrell’s remix of The Glamour’s ‘Love Burn’ does a neat job of exemplifying the sheer simplicity of this kind of material. Consisting of a simple three note distorted bassline and hardly anything else, it’s less straightforward than simply dull and predictable. Still, several gems later in the first disc offer conclusive proof that it’s possible to work within this kind of heady, heavy rave framework and still produce excellent music. The acrid synth stabs and garage-esque beat of Hot City’s ‘Hot City Bass’ are deliciously acidic, and garage hero MJ Cole’s remix of L-Vis 1990’s ‘United Groove’ takes a swung funky beat as its template to suitably flexible effect.

One interesting trend that has emerged in the eight or nine months since the first Ghetto Bass came out is the increased use of syncopated, soca-styled drum patterns in this sort of blog house. It’s partly down to the rise of UK funky, and its hybrid practitioners like Night Slugs, as well as a general move away from the rigidity of simple 4/4 beat patterns. It certainly breaks up the momentum quite nicely, but it’s hard not to feel that artists like L-Vis 1990, Bok Bok and Greena are making music that’s infinitely more interesting, and far more danceable, than the majority of the producers on Ghetto Bass 2.

The second disc throws something of a curveball out there, opening with A Made Up Sound’s excellent ‘Rework’ and Joy Orbison’s magical version of Four Tet’s ‘Love Cry’. The inclusion of the ubiquitous ‘Hyph Mngo’ is a little mysterious – much as it’s fantastic, it’s been everywhere for the last year or so, and as such has lost a little of the warm glow that made it such a buzz in the first place. Beyond that it’s more or less business as usual, livened up a little with a slightly ragga-esque feel that elevates Disc Two to the better on here. Of course, the best of an average pair is hardly ideal, but then there are far better places to get a bass fix than this.

Words : Rory Gibb

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