Plenty of people rave throughout their lives, with youthful excesses giving way to more restrained tastes, as if genres came with age guidelines. Dubstep: Age 25 and under. Techno: For the 25-35 year old demographic. Deep House: Age 35+, credit check at door (minimum score of 780 required for entry). But rave lifers like LA’s BASECK belong to a rare, hallowed few, a global network that remains unnamed but commands deep, intergenerational respect. These are the lifers of the hardcore continuum, the circuit benders and break choppers, the organic, sentient archives of a digital underground. For BASECK, it is the LA underground that he lives, breathes, and preserves, and as his Activ8 Rhythm EP on Boysnoize Records reminds us, the rave counterculture endures not through intellectual mythologizing but through the activation of the party itself. Over three decades of development (built upon now half-century old breakbeats), pick any moment in the hardcore continuum and it would still be “TIME 2 PARTY,” as the opening track of the EP announces. BASECK’s hardware-oriented practice reveals itself in the perpetual motion of effects and frenetic arrangement, the energy of embodied action rather than a dissociated point-and-clicking of static loops. The only semblance of melody is an atonal stab, yet everything is harmonic - and complexly so - as the rhythm and distortion of this uptempo big beat banger pack all the tonality needed for dance floor liftoff. BNR namesake BOYS NOIZE arrives for “MXXR,” and the modular, kick-tuning obsession shared by the two producers is made visceral by the squelchy, chest-beating stomp. Here, diverse vocal chops combine to form a darkly cinematic clubland soundtrack, visuals appearing unprompted in the mind’s eye, a rave scene with electrified air and dance steps encoded in a language only the body speaks - full-sensory VR through two channels of audio. “CYBER” conjures a ‘93 nightmare at gabber-speed, with a pounding 4x4 tumbling over breaks and bouncing through a metallic lattice, its structure traceable through variable sounds suggestive of hard and reverberant artificial materials... something left standing in the post-nuke Los Angeles of Terminator 2, perhaps. On the following track titled “DEVICES,” SKINNY PUPPY’s CEVIN KEY testifies to BASECK’s extraordinary timbral command. The industrial groups’ 1990 album Too Dark Park is a perennial masterpiece of sample and synth-based texture and sonics, and KEY lends his signature drum-processing and atmosphere to BASECK’s rave-ready programming. In this meeting of different generations and eras, one senses a shared vision of dystopian jouissance, the recurring dreams of cyberpunk so integral to rave that its history also carries a history of imagined futures. Appropriately, BASECK reaches back in time with “TERMIN8 (BONUS BEATS).” A once popular addition to 12” singles that has largely faded from memory, the “bonus beats” format presents pure rhythm with no accompaniment. These tracks were intended as a DJ tool instead of casual listening, but one can’t help but be hypnotically drawn into BASECK’s patterns, paying careful attention to rich nuances that normally would go unnoticed. But in closing the EP with nothing but drums, it is possible BASECK had the future in mind after all - breakbeats of his own to be discovered decades from now, becoming part of a hardcore yet to be imagined, like those rhythms and patterns from decades ago that still activate us today.
01. Baseck - TIME TO PARTY 02. Boys Noize & Baseck - MXXR 03. Baseck - CYBER 04. Baseck & cEvin Key - DEVICES 05. Baseck - TERMIN8 [Bonus Beats]
March 3, 2023