Believe in Bassnectar: Divergent Spectrum Album Review
Published: August 8, 2011
by Kerry McNeil
The wait is over for the latest—and extremely hyped—album Divergent Spectrum from Lorin Ashton, better known as California-based dubstep DJ/producer Bassnectar. Having released a few buzzworthy tracks prior to the album’s release (the playful “Upside Down,” and the ever-popular Ellie Goulding “Lights,” remix), Ashton had a lot to live up to as far as the rest of the album—leaving fans wondering if the rest of the album would be as good as its teasers.
As it turns out, the rest of Divergent Spectrum is just as hard-hitting as the singles—with Bassnectar’s signature bass-heavy wobbly greatness, along with more diverse, but cohesive tracks touching on styles like drum ‘n bass and electronica, but never losing the edge fans have grown to love and expect from Ashton.
“Upside Down” opens Divergent Spectrum with a bang—heavy on the dubstep, full of sirens, robotic and pitched down vocals, as well as some pretty gritty bass lines. Following “Upside Down,” Ashton spits out a remix of “Plugged In,” by Rollz, creating a high-energy, fast-paced rave-y track with a blistering beat. Next, the also previously-released remix of Gogol Bordello’s “Immigraniada,” gives listeners a taste of the Lower East Side punk band’s original song for about a minute, and then goes straight into an intense drop with ominous bass lines. The remix goes back to a more punk band sound during the middle section, and then right back into another heavy, wobbly drop to close out the track.
“Boomerang,” serves up full, threatening bass, wrapped in synthy melodies, dropping into subdued electric guitar, and then pumping right back up with lots of bass and lots of wobble. Having been leaked a few months back, the Ellie Goulding “Lights,” remix has been garnering quite a bit of the hype for Spectrum—currently holding down the #1 spot on the iTunes electronic singles chart…for a good reason. Bassnectar meshes the delicately beautiful vocals of Goulding with the slow build of the bass, crashing into a full-blown, powerful beat that makes it clear what all the excitement has been about during the past few months.
From “Lights,” Bassnectar transitions into the collaboration with ill.Gates, “Probable Cause,” complete with harsh wobbles and screaming synth melodies. Moving into another huge dubstep track in collaboration with Jantsen, “Red Step,” has inspired some comparisons to U.K. great Benga and is a burst of non-stop energy for its entirety.
The hip-hop vocals introducing “The Matrix,” is reminiscent of Bassnectar’s past, with a completely filthy drop, as the vocals had promised listeners that they “drop bass in your face.” Up next, “Voodoo,” disperses the same vibes as “Probable Cause,” but possibly a bit more viciously. Menacing synths on “Paging Stereophonic,” blend well with the bouncing beat and choppy vocal samples, transitioning into a breathy beat box sample during the middle, and continuing over the resurgence of the synths.
Bassnectar also collaborates with album engineer Seth Drake to produce “Above and Beyond”: a hearty serving of grinding bass, packed-with-a-punch beats, a distraught piano melody, and dramatic strings that build up into more brisk, pounding bass lines—elements that secured the track a spot on the upcoming Untz 2011 Digital Music Sampler.
Adding to the album’s diverse sounds, “After Thought,” is a more relaxed, chilled out electronica track, with a clapping beat and ambient tones weaved into one another. Ending Spectrum with “Disintegration Part IV,” Bassnectar creates what the title implies—a slow fade out to his latest effort on the shortest track of the album, clocking in under two and a half minutes.
Ashton also throws in two updated versions of older tracks, “Heads Up,” and “Parade Into Centuries,”—raising the bar of his own production skill, and the eyebrows of even his staunchest fans. Bassnectar’s title works—Divergent Spectrum offers up a vast array of sounds without straying too far from his signature style. With this album hitting the top of the charts, there’s no question mainstream industry moguls are starting to pay attention to (arguably) the biggest underground producer in the country. For Spectrum, the saying, “don’t believe the hype,” need not apply—believe it, the hype is well deserved.