Kwake Bass proves why he’s the one of the hottest drummers in the world with his debut mixtape
When Kwake Bass released this mixtape a few weeks ago I umm-ed and arr-ed whether to write about it, but I decided that I needed more time to digest it. After playing it on a semi constant basis since then, now feels like the perfect time. One of the factors for this change of heart is that he was part of Kate Tempest’s band when she recorded the exquisite Brand New Ancients album and was part of her live band for the Everybody Down tour. “But those albums came out in 2014 and the tour finished last year mate!” I can hear you say “Why bring that up now?” Well, dear reader, the answer is simple. Tempest’s debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses has just been published, and it tells the complete Everybody Down story. Imagine that the Everybody Down album is the trailer for The Bricks That Built The Houses. The main characters are introduced and we get the idea of the story, but the allegory’s and themes haven’t been full explained. Sorry, I got carried away, this isn’t about Tempest, its about Kwake Bass!
The KwAke BaSs MiXtApE is twenty six minutes of some of the tightest drumming you’ve heard for a long time, and this is juxtaposed with loose electronic experimentation and sublime sampled loops. Opening with a self-referential tag “Kwake!”, that also pop’s up again and again throughout the MiXtApE. This helps sections and suites seamlessly blend into each other and gives the piece a cohesive feel. There is a slightly surreal and lurid vibe too. But unlike a lot of surrealism, the KwAke BaSs MiXtApE is grounded in the real world thanks to the beats, thus heightening its lurid feel and separating himself from his peers. Throughout the mixtape there are vocal samples from tracks that are clearly close to Bass’ heart. Dub roasts sit comfortable on top of ethereal siren-esque wailing vocals. It shouldn’t work, but it does, perfectly. Samples from 90’s video games are also thrown into the mix with wild abandon. Street Fighter II’s iconic “Yoga Flame” shout crests hard hitting beats and delicate piano riffs, to create something that is familiar, yet totally new and forward thinking at the same time.
What KwAke BaSs MiXtApE shows is that Bass does not only have the skills to pay the bills through his drumming, but he also has the scope and vision needed to create vast sprawling soundscapes. Let’s at least another hope for another MiXtApE soon, but also that proper long player is in the pipeline, as Bass is too gifted to leave us with this sole solo effort!