bass clef

Bass Clef – ‘Reeling Skullways’ (Punch Drunk)

Hackney-via-Bristol producer Bass Clef has been a major force on the bass music scene for a number of years, known for hard-hitting, bass-heavy releases and intricate lives shows based on loop stations, mountains of cables, and the occasional trombone blast.

Last year’s ‘Rollercoasters of the Heart’ / ‘So Cruel’ split 7” combined bouncing, disjointed percussion and thick bass with vocal slices and syncopated keys to levels of proficiency that comes from over a decade in the game.

‘Reeling Skullways’ takes these building blocks and cranks things up a notch, its opener ‘Keep Hope Machine Running’ layering dense, warm tones before dropping into ‘Walworth Road Acid Trapdoor’’s dull thud of a slow burner; sporadic lead bursts and angular bass synths cutting through the kicks.

‘Hackney – Chicago – Jupiter’ is a pretty accurate description of that track’s trajectory, as it accelerates from minimalist beginnings into a full-blown tech-house shuffler, while the Raymond Scott blips of ‘Electricity Comes from Other Planets’ breaks into some mesmeric mid-tempo Detroit affectations so smoothly it’s as if the electronic music maverick was manning The Music Institute decks himself.

Bass Clef slows his roll on ‘Stenaline Metranil Solar Flare’, sculpting some warmth out of synth pads and cavernous snares, before bringing the back the menace on ‘Suddenly Alone Together’’s playful bass and clinical rhythms.

Reeling Skullways is a more varied and striking collection than anything thus far in the Bass Clef cannon, more superficially accessible than the likes of ‘Tapeswap’ – a recent outing alongside the brooding Ekoplekz – yet still with enthralling levels of depth to the likes of ‘A Rail is a Road and a Road is a River’ and cyclic 8-bit closer ‘Ghost Kicks in the Spiral’. As strong a set as you’re likely to see all year.

Tom Quickfall

‘Reeling Skullways’ will be released via Punch Drunk Recordings on April 30.