Oh, we spoil you here at Bass Music. Following on from Subeena’s mix earlier this month, Drum & Bass innovator Martsman has stepped up to deliver a mix and interview especially for us. If you haven’t heard his tracks before, go check out his myspace – they’re a riot of bass, razor sharp beats and digital freakouts. The track ‘Reclaim Your Resonance’ especially floats my boat – it’s somehow DnB but that doesn’t sound like DnB. Picked up last year by Hospital Records sister-label Med School, Martsman has made quite a name for himself already, and no doubt will go far – especially now that the scene seems to be opening up to new sounds a bit more, what with the likes of Lynx, D-Bridge, Instra:mental, Icicle and so on coming through.
The mix starts off mid-tempo, working through grimey, broken beat and dubstep influences, before switching up halfway through for a Drum & Bass rollout session; beats twisting and rearing like some lunatic cobra. Give it a spin!
So, tell us about this mix. I wasn’t expecting the 140(ish)bpm stuff! Is that something you play in your club sets? Are you producing stuff at this tempo these days?
I always wanted to do something like this mix – starting up with stuff around 140bpm and ending in Drum & Bass tempo. The key to this is of course the Sonar Circle track in the middle. It starts up as Broken Beat and switches tempo in the breakdown rolling out in D&B. Since I started DJing – that was a few years after that track came out – I couldn’t get this idea out of my head to build something around this simple switch, but it basically took me until late 2008 where I seriously started to open up my sets to different genres. That was mainly because I always tried to integrate different genres within the D&B frame and realized that even with that “open mindedness” I was kind of restrictive in regards of tempo. Also, I gradually started writing music at this kind of tempo myself, so it was obviously the next logical step to expand my DJ sets.
For the last months i’ve been playing more and more Breaks, Dubstep, Dubtechno, Break- and Raggacore and even Pop Mash ups along with the ‘regular’ Drum&Bass. I really like how the different genres can interact and create this tension where you can’t decide if a track is totally silly or serious – something that works out easier for me when it’s not only one particular style of music.
How would you describe your sound at the moment? It sounds a bit like an updated version of drumfunk to me. Is that a strong influence in your stuff?
Drumfunk has been a very strong influence in the first years of writing my own music. I would not go so far and say that even my earlier releases were Drumfunk in the narrower sense, nor would I agree that the stuff that I write today is an updated version of it. People tend to apply the term ‘Drumfunk’ to Drum&Bass music that doesn’t fit a standard drum pattern. Same with ‘Leftfield’ – it appears to be a collective term for everything that is non standard sounding. But what is this ‘standard’ sound of Drum&Bass anyway? Music evolves, and what would have been standard in the mid nineties could be the out-of-the-box-stuff from today or the other way around – it’s either you like the music or not.
Personally, I am obviously drawn towards more complex structures, be it in regard of drum patterns or the overall development in the tune. Also everything digital sounding, single samples up to 80s synthfests are very appealing to me. On the other hand I am extremely fascinated by music that is build out of one single loop that just sounds like it could go on forever. And of course analog dirt has its good things! I think my music is an attempt of approximation to a combination of all that.
Who are you listening to these days? Who’s influencing your tunes, and where do you see your sound going?
Well, I don’t think it’s particularly audible in my music, but i’ve been listening to a lot of minimalist compositions recently – Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, John Cage – also John Zorn’s Masada projects, Fennesz, Monolake and Berlin Dubtechno stuff. And of course I am not immune to this whole Experimental Hip Hop meets Dubstep movement, Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Joker…Also, I am definelty drawn towards what ‘inbetweeners’ like Mochipet, Aaron Spectre, Drop the Lime etc do. I can’t really tell where my sound’s going, but I’ve got quite a lot of ideas for different projects – outside of Drum&Bass mainly – so we’ll see…
Do you think there’s still a place for breakbeat science these days? Or have we all moved on past that, now that it’s been proven that we can chop drum breaks up to a molecular level?
That is a very good question. In fact I think that as far as chopping up breaks is concerned, we’ve heard it all, and we all have our own masters – for me personally it’s not as appealing as it used to be. On the other hand, breakbeat science is not only about chopping up breaks and rearranging every bar in a different manner – we shouldn’t forget that even a simple so-called 2-step drum pattern is a breakbeat. The most interesting tunes in my opinion are those that modulate a certain detail and stick with it – it doesn’t have to be something particularly ‘new’ but something particularly focused and well done. That of course applies to breakbeat tunes as well. So I’d say there’s enough room for ideas and impressive and effective results, even in simple pattern structures. That’s probably geeky but then again we call it breakbeat ‘science’, don’t we?
So what projects do you have going on at the minute? Anything you want to plug? What’s next?
Frankly, I haven’t been writing a lot for the last weeks and months due to exam preparation, but there’ll be a few Drum & Bass releases in the second half of the year on labels like Offkey and Alphacut. Keep your eyes peeled!