24.5.11

Roman Collision.

All right, let's talk about bass.

It's probably because I sang bass in choir, but I've always been partial to the lower registers. (Which is why the high-end car audio systems that turn your music into a thrill ride for your sinuses has always baffled me, but I digress.) In most cases, songs have a grounding bass, which combines with the drums to provide a background for the rest of the instruments. Sometimes this becomes a propulsion bass, which provides a launch pad and landing zone for high-flying guitar aerobatics. And sometimes, it gets turned up to 11 and becomes destruction bass, which churns up the earth around the song, obliterating anything in its path.

But it can be so much more.


The Collider, by Sam Roberts, is a fantastic album by any measure for fans of his previous work, but the opening track, "The Last Crusade", froze me in my chair, and forced me to listen to it another three times before I relented, and listened to the rest of the album. Why? It's the bass. It's a baseline that moves the song, and pushes it forward. But not like destruction bass, rumbling along like a bulldozer (as heard in Track 9, "I Feel You"). And not like mogul bass, bouncing downhill, thrown forward by the song and barely able to control its direction (as heard in Track 2, "Without A Map").

There's the barbershop bass, which invites you to sing along, with every syllable being, "bom". That's a wonderful type of bass, and it's used to good effect in Track 8, "Twist The Knife", but it moves within the song, not externally.

So what of "The Last Crusade"? It's a baseline that flies, but never above the treetops. It stays low, but doesn't fall. Whenever it does touch ground, it's only for a beat, and then it pushes forward again.

It's stalking bass, and outside of a few Bjork numbers and some well-placed tympani, it's a rare bass indeed, and one of my all-time favourites. That's what makes "The Last Crusade" one of my new favourite driving songs, for when the moon is low and you set out with a purpose. A last crusade, indeed.

Sam Roberts has always between a phenomenal performer -- I like all his previous work, but I think this is the first albums he's done that manages to capture that sort of emotion in the recording.

There's another album I have to share with you tomorrow, which is completely different from anything I've mentioned so far, yet manages to hold the key to my soul.

But for now, I've got to go outside and get moving. There's a barbershop bulldozer in my head flying low over moguls, and it needs some fresh air.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.