Anaves Music Bass Jam Review

Anaves Music – Bass Jam – Review

Various Artists and Anaves Music: Bass Jam Album Review – by Mr Topple for

Anaves Music, headed up by saxophonist and producer Sebastian “Sabolious” Schwager, has already had an illustrious track record since its launch in 2019. Now, the label’s first digital album provides a refreshing retrospective of this – along with some new music as well.

Bass Jam, released via Anaves Music, sees Sabolious musically choreograph 12 tracks featuring various artists. It’s a testament to the sheer breadth that the label has covered in the past five years, but also the musicality of those involved. Because Bass Jam sweeps across styles and genres – and inventively so, never resting on its musical laurels.

The album opens with Bandulu and Rise Again. It is a thoroughly modern Roots-led track – with the signature bubble rhythm across dampened keys being matched with a winding bass line. However, there are more modern elements present. Not least among these is the engineering of the bass: resonant, deep, and rounded – giving it the feel of modern Trap. This vibe is then enhanced by the stuttering drum arrangement with those obligatory Trap buzz rolls on the hi-hats. There’s some nice arrangement on the stark horns – and stark is the feel of the track overall. Bandulu’s vocal is classic Roots – merging singjay and straighter vocal with nice bending of his embouchure for added effect. His lyrical narrative, calling on those of faith to ‘rise up’, is stirring – and overall, Rise Again is a very strong opener.

Awa Fall then continues this merging of genres with Reggae Resurrection. Here, the arrangement is straighter Roots, albeit with the BPM upped slightly. However, there is some mixing-up of the traditional elements. The keys’ bubble rhythm is offset by a synth key effect performing a double-time version at points before it runs into a countermelody on the chorus. The bass is omnipresent and forthright once again, winding a complex melody – while drums here are on a more straightforward one drop, where the kick misses the first beat of the bar. Fall is quite superb across her vocal – providing some exceptionally strong singjay, compete with complex rhythmic arrangements, juxtaposed with a highly pleasing vocal. Lyrically, she provides a strong narrative about the power of Reggae music and the meaning behind it, and overall Reggae Resurrection is another strong cut.

Next, and Dr. Ring Ding gives us Follow Dis Yah Sound. The track is another mashing up of sounds, taking us back to an 80s Dancehall vibe while bringing in modern elements – with the bass taking on an even deeper, reverberating sound. Those Trap influences are back across the drums again, with haunting hi-hat buzz rolls scattered across the track. There’s great use of some synths, including a horn line that has been heavily engineered to make it sound otherworldly. The obligatory keys’ bubble rhythm is still present, as are some nice Dub-style breaks and some additional horns playing deep down their registers. Ring Ding is gruff, abrasive, and engaging – with a nasty vocal that is a traditional singjay if ever there was one. It’s a great throwback-meets-the-21st century offering.

Anaves Music featuring Sabolious, Forward Dub, is a classic construction around the genre – of sorts. The exception being the frantic drum line which feels more at home in Steppers, while the bass is certainly Dub through and through. Sabolious sax line is pure perfection: multilayered, having the feel of a human voice (expressive and filled with light and shade) – and the whole things is pleasing.

Meanwhile, Thera P. comes on board for The Secret (Three Lake Music RMX). It’s the first obvious Dancehall track of the album, with the recognisable ‘oneeeeee-twooo-and x2’ rhythm across the drums, while the bass complements this well with a more winding arrangement. However, the track is much lighter than traditional 21st century Dancehall, with some nice nods to Afrobeats across the additional percussion – including what sounds like a synth balafon. There’s some great use of horns – notably Sabolious’s sax line – and Thera P’s vocal is sheer class: gentle, winding, airy, and filled with dynamic light and shade – clearly being influenced by Jazz. She also provides quality backing vocals too, across a narrative singing praise to the power of music. Powerful works.

Next, and Kol.EE aka King D and Sabolious give us Purification. Here, Bass Jam changes tack slightly again. The vibe is brooding and leans heavier into the Trap – with just the obligatory keys’ bubble rhythm pointing to Roots, and some stark breaks pointing to Dub. The drums are ominous, featuring those hi-hat buzz rolls again, while the kick is dominant here. The bass is elongated across a basic rhythm that focuses on a few tones up and down, and the use of strings is very choral-meets-Trap. However, there are further nods to other genres in terms of the additional instrumentation – like, for example, Sabolious’s Soul-laced sax line – and also the heavy use of reverb in terms of Dub. King D is an accomplished vocalist, bringing elements of both Reggae, spoken word, and Hip Hop into his performance, and Sabolious’s sax complements his gruffer tone well. Atmospheric and haunting in equal measure.

Lofi Sax and Sabolious then give us Lo-Reggae – a pleasing instrumental Roots piece that also has some elements of Ska across it – and great use of Dub-style synths as well. Thera P. returns after this with New Seed. What stands out here are the pleasingly arranged chord progressions – far more at home in RnB/Soul than Roots – and the use of very 80s-style synths. While the Roots fundamentals are there – keys’ bubble rhythm, skanking guitar, a winding, drop-beat bass riff, and something bordering a one drop on the drums – again, additional elements elevate the track past this. These include hi-hat buzz rolls, the winding synth horn line which reminds of Synthwave, and the overall use of dotted notation that crosses beats. Thera P. once again impresses vocally, and lyrically her inspiring words about resistance and potential systemic change are uplifting.

Anaves Music featuring Sabolious join forces with Umberto Echo for Still Dub (Umberto Echo Dubmix). It is a highly effective reworking – focusing on something more Soul at points, and Roots/Dub at others. It’s been well arranged to highlight both the Roots elements – particularly the frantically skanking guitar – as well as the brilliant sax line from Sabolious. The prominence of a rasping electric guitar is a welcome addition on Bass Jam, and some inspired synths return once more – giving the track a throwback feel.

Awa Fall’s previously released Free Your Mind is a Roots track with a twist. It brings in elements of Steppers, with the kick majorly focuses on running quavers (as opposed to a more traditional Steppers’ four-to-the-floor) with some syncopation towards the end of each bar. This cleverly gives the feel of the track being double the BPM at points (like it is four-to-the-floor) when in fact, it’s not. Meanwhile, the bass is more Steppers too. It avoids the trappings of Roots: no drop-beat or one drop arrangement in sight, instead running both quavers and their dotted cousins, mainly across arpeggio (broken) chords, but with the occasional inflections of something more melodic. There’s some great additional percussion like a vibraslap; Falls’ vocal is on point again – and overall, it’s a great cut.

Anaves Music’s first release was Fred Locks (here with Ashanti Selah) with No To Racism. Now, it gets the remix treatment. The original Steppers-style arrangement with its frantic four-to-the-floor has been upgraded. There’s a winding back of it somewhat; additional funky keys have been brought in over the top to add further interest; and there’s heavy use of reverb here. The slowing of the feel (without actually slowing the BPM) works very well – and it’s a very good refresher of what is now a classic track.

Bass Jam closes with Ashanti Selah providing Unity Dub – a reworking No To Racism’s instrumental. Once again, we have a double-time four-to-the-floor (so eight, really) kick driving the track forward, while the guitar and bass take centre stage. There’s a real emphasis on the Dub, here – perhaps more so than any other track on the album. It’s stark and there’s some great use of engineering to create an almost chaotic feel – before the main chorus kicks in and brings some order to things. The horns are extremely well-worked, suddenly coming in before suddenly going out (much like the keys also) and overall, Unity Dub is a quite brilliant example of just how good the genre can be.

Overall, Bass Jam is not only an excellent retrospective of some of Anaves Music’s back catalogue to date as well as introducing us to the new – it also serves as a potted look at 21st century Roots and Dub and some of the spaces in between. It’s inspired, infinitely listenable, and a must-have album. Quality works all rounds.

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Anaves Music Bass Jam Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services.

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