Wooli and Excision converge on ‘Evolution’ EP for an exhibition of bass variance [Review/Q&A]
When the old and new titans of the bass world coalesce on a distinctive vision, the witnesses quake in anticipation of its residual impact. In the case of Excision and Wooli, their latest collaborative project Evolution has demanded the inexhaustible attention of bass fans not just for its impeccable sound design, but for its decisive showcase of stylistic colors in a formidable four-tracker EP package. The burgeoning Wooli is capitalizing on his momentous rise in the heavy bass scene, and Evolution both dictates a pivotal act of artistry in his career while heralding the continuum of his genre-morphing inclinations as he looks forward to his next move.
Cementing his early status in a portfolio of “briddim” and hard dubstep, Wooli, born Adam Puleo, first broke onto the scene with his remix of Excision and Dion Timmer‘s “Her” and rapidly accumulated a fanbase devoted to his production prowess in thrashing bass music. His imposing sound earned him the weighty support of mainstay Excision following the latter’s inclusion of Wooli’s track, “Wave It Up” in the 2016 iteration of his iconic Shambhala mix.
Dancing Astronaut spoke to Wooli about all the creative elements that shaped his journey to present day, including his relationship with co-producer and dubstep behemoth Excision.
“Excision was one of the first people to ever support my music at that kind of scale. He’s actually really easy to approach as far as sending music. He’s been supporting my music his last two or three tours and playing probably anywhere from three to six of my songs per set. Then, it transitioned into me playing a lot of the shows on his tours. So that’s where we finally met. It was just a natural relationship that evolved. As long as you find some way to become friends with that person, it comes pretty naturally wanting to write music with them later.”
The rest is history; since then, Wooli has collected a stacked set of songwriting, sound development, and tour experience in a short time—embarking on Adventure Club‘s Death or Glory tour, debuting two tracks on Seven Lions‘ Ophelia Records, and gracing festival circuits from the likes of Electric Forest, Bass Canyon, Electric Zoo, and more. Now, the Rochester native acts to prove his fledging reputation is no act of luck, but a culmination of sheer talent as he simultaneously takes on his own headlining tour, The Voyage, alongside peer Trivecta and releases his joint Evolution EP with Excision.
“It started with just one song. We wrote “Evolution” with Sam King and we had some more ideas for different projects that we either started, never finished or just had in the back of our head. He had me come up to his house up in Canada, we wrote up there for about five or six days, and pretty much finished the EP there.”
Evolution spans four tracks each characterized by their respective tonal marks and constructed by idiosyncratic intentions. The EP opens with “Lockdown” —the only track devoid of features— for a heavy-hitter signature of screeching synths and pounding bass; the ensuing dubstep production is exactly what listeners expect from the combined forces of Wooli and Excision. Titular track “Evolution” also echoes the chaotic menace of the opener, its foreground perforated by the growls of mammoths while Sam King‘s vocals pave the way for a deadly drop. With primal instincts and raw energy, both numbers will be destined as crowd favorites for the live stage, undoubtedly seizing their full potential with the capabilities of bass-thundering sound systems.
“The most fun to make was “Lockdown” just because it was me and Excision in his basement/mega studio and it was my first time ever working in the studio; I always just work over the internet. It was a really fun experience and he’s got like the loudest, biggest, bass-iest speakers you could buy.”
As much as “Lockdown” and “Evolution” epitomize the expected product of a Wooli and Excision collaboration, the rest of the EP signifies a dynamism outside of their supposed expertise that grants endless bounds of excitement in relation to the former. Finding middle ground between melodic and heavy, “Another Me” lies on the cusp of genre nuances. Although driven by Seven Lion’s imprint on melodic dubstep, Wooli and Excision’s own taste of elbow-throwing soundscape make their presence equally known.
“‘Another Me’ was a favorite personal song just because I’ve always wanted to work with Dylan Matthew; his vocals are amazing and he’s an amazing artist. Then, obviously there’s Seven Lions who I’ve worked with before; we always just kill it together when it comes to the melodic side.”
However, the star of Evolution is Trivecta triple-collaboration, “Oxygen” and its poignant rendering of Wooli and Excision’s softer productions. Vocals from Julianne Hope reflect the emotive lyricism: “Swimming in the deep end / Breath away from drowning / Kiss me like I’m oxygen”. A clear divergence from its adjacent tracks, “Oxygen” trades a dubstep drop for future-bass inspired crescendos; the resulting product is breathtakingly beautiful. Exercising minimalistic instrumentals, keyboard chords and guitar strums pepper the delicate structure before the track builds into a sublime melodic drop and ephemerally descends into melancholic repose again.
“I’m really happy with the EP and response. My only concern was how open people were going to be specifically to the song “Oxygen” because there’s not a dubstep drop, but the fans…they kind of get it and they like it. I’m just happy with everything right now.”
Evolution‘s selection of songs leaves no question for Wooli and Excision’s collective versatility and its sonic range may leave some fans curious, others disappointed, but many hungry for more. However, treading outside his staple comes as no surprise to Wooli himself, whose path to dubstep first found its origins in other forms of electronic music.
“Drum n’ bass was basically my first introduction to bass music when I was a lot younger. It was something my brother would listen to in the car when he was driving me around. In my city Rochester, New York, there’s no local dubstep scene. It was either tech house or drum n’ bass. Those were the only two things that people would listen to and if you wanted to be a DJ locally you had to play those kinds of genres. So when I learned how to start DJing, —before I was making music, just wanting to be a DJ— I was mixing drum n’ bass a lot.”
More importantly, the inherent risk-taking in juxtaposing the harsh, heavy-hitting productions with melodic territory reflects Wooli’s own personal goals with where he believes he can take his music and where his motivations have always resided. Unconfined by the arbitrary lines of sub-genres, Wooli intends to carve his own visionary definitions of quality music into the bass scene. While his previous releases have harbored traces of experimentation, they act as playing ground in comparison to Evolution—the large-scale release of which has validated Wooli’s concrete ability time-and-time again to step with ease into any musical area he wishes to explore. Evolution ultimately showcases equal parts stylistic breadth and depth, refusing to relinquish Excision and Wooli’s beloved hard dubstep in light of new directions. Now, welding another massive collaborative project under his belt, Wooli finds himself at the crux of another jumping point in his artistic growth and overarching career.
“I’m going to keep on exploring what I could do with combining the melodic and the heavy. If not melodic and heavy, just two different genres like with my single “Psyclone” where it was heavy and psy trance. Anything that I feel like would keep the listener guessing to what’s going to happen next is what I’m really interested in and focusing on who I can get as far as a vocal feature to elevate the songs to the next level. My whole goal now is to make music that’s going to feel more like a complete song rather than just a dubstep drop.”
Stream Evolution below.
Photo Credit: Oh Dag Yo