British electronic producer Basic Rhythm returns with a brand new album, On the Threshold, out today via Planet Mu, and he takes us through the top 10 songs that influenced his latest work.
In this new recurring PopMatters feature, Top 10 Influences, some of our favorite artists will be sharing their 10 biggest musical influences to give listeners a fuller picture of their art. It may be their 10 favorite ever, or the 10 influencing their latest album.
Basic Rhythm is one Anthoney Hart in real life, and he is also East Man for some projects. Hart is an English producer from the border area of London's East End and Essex, and he spent his formative years during the 1990s enmeshed in the pirate radio world playing drum 'n' bass. That background informs Basic Rhythm's current work, which includes his new album releasing today.
On the Threshold is his latest and it's out via the sublime Planet Mu imprint. What that means is we hear music grounded in the "basic rhythms" of drum 'n' bass, but surrounded by a more experimental aesthetic. Basic Rhythm has evolved his sound over the years to where he's pushed drum 'n' bass to its limits and brought in modern influences like dubstep, minimalism, IDM, and footwork. The result is a varied and thrilling album that works for the head and feet.
1. GZA featuring U-God, Raekwon & Ghostface Killer - Investigative Reports
I am not a huge follower of rap and hip-hop in general, but there are a few key albums and rappers that I rate. In a lot of previous releases I have sampled little snippets of dialogue, mostly Mobb Deep or Wu Tang members saying "Yeah", but I snipped the little intro dialogue from this for the track "Yeah, I Like It".
2. D'Angelo - Play Playa
I love the sonic atmosphere of this track, the sounds used, and the looseness of the percussion. It is a big influence in the mood and approach I take to certain Basic Rhythm tracks.
3. Moodyman - I Can't Kick This Feeling When It Hits
When making this album I was listening to a lot of Detroit techno and Chicago house. It had a huge impact on how I approached my tracks. A big influence on my own production comes from my background in drum 'n' bass, jungle, and hardcore, especially the period in late 1994 through 1995. That summer in the city sort of vibe. A lot of that stuff was directly influenced by what had come before it in Chicago and Detroit. This track encapsulates that style perfectly. The tone, the energy, the groove.
4. Theo Parish and Marcellus Pittman - Questions Comments
This track is a perfect roller, and has definitely impacted upon my own production. That snare, the phasing groove just rolling out, the keys, the modulated vocal stab… Perfect!
5. Dylan and Facs - Plankton
This track represents another big influence of a certain era in drum 'n' bass on my sound. The late 1990s when I first started playing on pirate radio. The angular beats and that gritty bass. An off key digital funk. This reminds me so much of when I first started on Rude FM. Incidentally, the first track on the album is named after the tower block that we were broadcasting from when I first joined Rude FM all those years ago.
6. Photek - Consciousness
I had to include this track as I sampled the vocal from it for "A New Consciousness", but also as it again represents a particular feeling that I tried to capture in this album. The blue skies of a hot summer in the city and suburbs of London, looking to the future. It's all you need really. Luscious pads, deep bass and some tough drums.
7. Air - J'ai Dormi Sous L'eau (Chateaux Flight Remix)
This is a track I bought a long time ago when it first came out in 1997. I returned to it over the last couple of years that I was working on the album as it has something that I really wanted to try to capture. That rolling drum pattern and deep bass line, coupled with the lush pads and keys.
8. Cassius Select - 90
I chose this track to represent the contemporary musicians who are an influence on what I am doing with Basic Rhythm, such as Scratcha DVA, Mickey Pearce, Gage etc. I love almost everything Cassius Select has released, but I chose this one as it is such a great combination of his off kilter drums and a big bass line you can dance to.
9. Coil - First Dark Ride
Coil are a big influence on me musically, not just sonically but in that they had the courage of their convictions. They did what they wanted to do on their terms. This track is a perfect example of how they could create a completely immersive sonic world with a deftness and ease that virtually no one else has managed.
10. Alex Reece - Basic Principles
This track. Summer, jazz, drums, and bass. What more do you need?