Bassnectar’s ‘Reflective’ EP is viscerally heavy and profoundly complex [EP Review]
Bass music demigod Lorin Ashton has released the latest project from his amorphous music vault, which is the first in a two-part EP series titled Reflective. Insofar as Bassnectar has earned a reputation of mythic proportions within his bass head community, it may come as little surprise that the project has received mixed opinions.
The six-track EP, out now via Ashton’s independent imprint, Amorphous Records, represents everything the Bay-area native has been working towards up to this point in his career. The musical mage builds on his older collaborations with the usual suspects, and tells a larger overall story of what is yet to come — so long as fans are willing to “open [their] eyes,” to listen deeper, see the bigger picture, and to submit to the larger journey.
Ultimately, the Reflective EP is an expertly conceived, adeptly crafted masterpiece of consummate sound. This mastery is seen in “Arps of Revolución,” the instrumental opener of the release, which Ashton calls a “tribute to the glistening downtempo of the 1990s” and a follow-up to “Reaching Out” from his Unlimited LP. The EP’s Mimi Page-assisted central track, “What Will Be,” further indicates the compositional success of the EP – arguably, the entire project is built around this heavenly, healing hymn.
Certainly there’s no cause for mourning Bassnectar’s recent re-evolution onto the slower, downtempo coin because Reflective (Part One) has something for those with harder leaning musical sentiments as well. From the G Jones-assisted “Underground,” to the formidable “Infrared,” half of the EP is comprised of tracks specifically built for Ashton’s cutting edge live sound design experience, with its high wattage bass drops and cleanly composed root notes that go as low as 26-27 hertz.
The biting, Born I Music-vocalized “I’m Up” comes as Bassnectar’s third collaboration with GnarGnar, and has been teased in Bassnectar live sets for some time. Broadcasting soaring synths and thunderous samples with enormous groove appeal, the bass anthem emanates from atop a wave of preeminent sonic proportion. Ashton also revealed that his fourth collaboration with GnarGnar would be out on Part Two of the Reflective series in late 2017.
The final track on Reflective, “Horizons,” featuring Dorfex Bos, is a spellbinding wall of sound play, with low end bass lines, heavy reverb, and smooth arpeggiated synths. Initially released alongside “Underground” as one of the EP’s lead singles, “Horizons,” is a masterful reflection of Ashton’s keen talent for melodically innovative composition.
The whole EP is an unapologetic masterpiece in its commitment to otherworldly dimensional spaces, its sophisticated understanding of form and genre, and in how it creates complex sonic layers that one must pull back like an onion. What stands out most about the album is how visceral it is. Reflective (Part One) is, more than anything else, a quintessential product of Lorin’s firm vision. It’s two sides of the same coin: gritty and beautiful, intuitive and intelligent, hard and healing.
From the crisp drums of Reflective, to its stirring arpeggiated synths, it’s easy (indeed, enjoyable) to render one’s self into a deeply introspective state – to become lost within the profundity of Ashton’s sonic canvas. The EP is communal and psychedelic, enlightening and complex, but above all else, accessible. Suffice it to say, Bassnectar has set the bar high for his forthcoming musical sequel.