Bomb The Bass
Bomb the Bass (formed 1987, in London, England) is the umbrella title for the output of British musician and producer, Tim Simenon. The band, which has evolved its style over the years, has been classed as electronic or dance. As a name, Bomb the Bass came from Simenon's approach to collaging and mixing sounds whilst DJing in the mid to late 1980s; he says "samples were either scratched in live or sampled and looped on top of the rhythm section. So the concept was one of bombing the bass line with different ideas, with a collage of sounds. Bombing was a graffiti term for writing, like people would 'bomb' trains or whatever." Released in 1987, the band's debut single was Beat Dis, with composition credited to Emilio Pasquel / Captain Black / DJ Kid 33. Keenly disguised as a U.S. import on the Mister-Ron imprint, in an attempt to conjure the mystique of Bomb the Bass being an underground New York act, the single exceeded mere expectations by eventually reaching number two on the UK charts. Its roaring success put the then still relatively unknown Simenon on the front cover of Britain's most serious, and highly influential music newspaper, the NME. This event was notable not only for being the moment when the previously pro-rock / anti-disco paper sided with post-disco dance music (at this time indie was the NME's genre du jour), recognising and valuing Simenon for being a DJ first and foremost, rather than a musician; but also for the dawn of the term DJ Culture. Used as the cover's sub-heading, the term would henceforth become the accepted term for the incoming trend (of which Simenon was arguably one of the UK's pioneers) of DJs as superstars, and which would dominate popular music at least for the next decade. The recording of "Beat Dis", which cost a reputed £500 - funded by Simenon himself with money coming from DJ sets at London club, The Wag, and an odd-job stacking shelves in a supermarket - was one of the first hit singles to introduce the mainstream to sampling culture (along with releases by M/A/R/R/S, S'Express and the genre-defining Coldcut remix of Eric B & Rakim's "Paid in Full"). Whilst the bass line and drum tracks were written by Simenon, the rest of the track was compiled from samples, presenting an aural mood board of where his influences were at. Having already taken a part-time sound course at The School Of Audio Engineering in Holloway, Simenon was in the enviable position of being able to build Beat Dis himself - assisted in the process by producer Pascal Gabriel, who would go on to experience his own success as co producer of S Express and a wide variety of other artists. According to the BBC, which featured Beat Dis on their clip-based TOTP2 show, the track contains an alleged 72 samples, including lifts from hip hop like Public Enemy, funk (including The Jimmy Castor Bunch), and Ennio Morricone. Also featured were dialogue clips from the television shows Dragnet, and Thunderbirds. Talking to Sound On Sound magazine many years later, Simenon said of the tracks construction, "I suppose I was tuned in to what was current at the time and was able to pick and choose what I wanted with some knowledge of how it should be applied." Beyond the inventive use of samples and breakbeats on Beat Dis, the single release would also go on to impact on the cultural landscape in a far bigger, yet inadvertent manner. By way of a homage, the single sleeve featured an aspect of a cartoon frame from the cult Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen. The image used was of a smiley badge that had, in the story, been worn by a murdered man, pushed from a skyscraper window. As a result of the fall, the badge had become - ironically - splattered with blood. A simple, yet powerful image at the time, in both its Watchmen and isolated form, the smiley (without the ironic blood) would subsequently go on to become the icon of the emerging Rave scene, hijacking and overwriting the logo's meaning from then on. Jolted into action by the success of Beat Dis, Bomb the Bass moved from singles success to album act, with debut LP, Into the Dragon - the name of which aligned with hip-hop cultures growing fondness for 70s kung-fu movies. Made up of ten tracks, the collection expanded further the band's fascination with hip-hop breakbeats, rap, and that musical sub-culture's creative mashing of multi-media pop culture references. The second single, Megablast, took its bassline from the theme music to the John Carpenter film Assault on Precinct 13, and was also used in the Bitmap Brothers computer game Xenon 2 Megablast. Other early hits included Don't Make Me Wait (as a double-A side release with Megablast), and a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition I Say a Little Prayer. Proving much in demand, Simenon was drafted in to help produce a radical remake of Buffalo Stance, the debut hit single by Neneh Cherry (as featured on the album, Raw Like Sushi). The released version features Cherry paying homage to Simenon during the song's break ("Bomb the Bass, rock this place"), and reached number three on the UK singles chart and number 1 on the US dance chart. He also produced follow-up single, Manchild, and undertook 12" remix duties. In 1991, "Love So True", the first single of new Bomb the Bass material, suffered under hastily imposed (and unofficial) censorship broadcast regulations, as the outbreak of the First Gulf War prompted UK broadcasters, especially the main national music station BBC Radio 1, to blacklist a variety of songs and acts deemed potentially controversial due to their content or titles. The band name Bomb the Bass was considered to fall into this category, along with that of Massive Attack. Copies of the "Love So True" single were re-issued credited to Tim Simenon instead, but the resulting confusion may have impeded the single's chart chances. With the Bomb the Bass moniker restored, and an album ready to go, band activity once again ground to a halt, when the collection, now titled Unknown Territory, was delayed when Pink Floyd refused to allow a section of "Money" to be sampled on one of the album's tracks. With the contentious Pink Floyd sample removed, the album campaign revved up once again. Second single "Winter in July" fared much better, subsequently becoming a summer-fuelled UK Top 10 hit. The track featured several prominent samples from the Japan track "Ghosts" (as featured on the band's final studio album, Tin Drum). This act of inclusion-by-sampling saw Simenon following the hip hop ethos of paying homage to heroes on record. By referencing the David Sylvian-led band's influential textual and ambient work many years before, Simenon was giving notice of his intention to help push hip hop-oriented dance music in the direction that would become trip-hop. Once again pioneering new sounds in the public arena, and following the success of Winter In July, Unknown Territory would be the band's most well received release to date. Reviewing the album at the time, music writer and author Simon Reynolds attempted to outline a new genre in the making, suggesting that, by moving beyond mere dance tracks into fully cohesive albums, the band were venturing into progressive dance; however, the term did not stick. As usual on the album, a great deal of Simenon's hip hop fascination would shine through (most notably, the production work of The Bomb Squad with Public Enemy) via the use of multi-media samples, with the album containing dialogue or soundtrack clips from Rollerball, Blade Runner, David Cronenberg's Videodrome, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Marvel comics' Fantastic Four animated cartoon series; and Death Race 2000. Having developed dance music's potential via debut single "Beat Dis" in to a more song-based form of what the avant-garde would term musique concrete, with its complex use of hybrid hip-hop-inspired sound poaching (in place of actual played sounds) taken to logical extremes, Simenon pre-empted a style that would do well by several major acts in the years to come. So, whilst the downbeat experimental Winter In July and Love So True would pave the way for trip-hop, the uptempo breakbeat-heavy side of Unknown Territory, would be taken into more punk-laced territory as the riotous sound of The Prodigy, from their Music for the Jilted Generation album onwards. Further to which, the style would also be explored further by - and prove infinitely more successful, commercially speaking, for - the likes of Fat Boy Slim as the genre known as bigbeat. Interviewed for Sound On Sound magazine in 1995, Simenon agreed with the interviewer when it was suggested that, with this more frenetic side of his work, he was looking to "combine the art of sampling with the energy of rock and roll." During this period, Simenon also collaborated with former Ultravox singer John Foxx on the 12" single "Remember" as Nation 12 (which enjoyed a measure of success in clubs and raves across the UK). Clear, the third album from Bomb the Bass, as released in 1995. Note: the album sleeve references William Burrough's Naked Lunch novel, not only nodding to the specific content of lead single, Bug Powder Dust, but also the author's influence across the rest of the album's music. The antique TV screen device mimics the visuals used to advertise the film adaptation of Naked Lunch upon both its theatre and VHS releases. Burroughs' cut-up method of destroying original text and repiecing it to create more surreal prose was quoted by Simenon as a major influence on his approach to sampling. Plus, the best of the album would feature Beat-inspired spoken word/poetry instead of sung vocals. In 1995, Bomb the Bass released their third album, Clear, on the Stoned Heights imprint of Island Records; the outer sleeve of which bore striking similarity to the poster advertising the David Cronenberg movie, Naked Lunch. Blending dub aesthetics into the mix, Clear is a more mature, yet far darker work - both tonally and through its subject matter - than previous offerings. Vocal contributions would come this time, courtesy of Justin Warfield, Sinéad O'Connor, Jah Wobble, Benjamin Zephaniah - and River (a pseudonym for Minnie Driver, the actress, who provided vocals on Tidal Wave). Instrumentally, the album would also feature contributions from Sugar Hill drummer, Keith LeBlanc (also Tackhead and On-U Sound), Doug Wimbish (also notable for having playing bass as part of the Sugar Hill backing band, for acts like Grandmaster Flash), and guitarist Skip McDonald (also On-U Sound). Where once Simenon had initially constructed tracks with frenetic layers of colourful samples from films and cartoons, real instrumentation, which had already factored as a large part of the production on Unknown Territory, was now playing an even greater role - albeit in heavily edited and/or effected forms, that saw them composited with other sounds to disguise or beef up their impact - along with song-orientated vocals. As a result, all but one of the albums tracks would fit into what could be considered a conventional structure. Whilst this would mark Simenon's leaps and bounds in his progression from DJ-based music to actual song-based composition, this may have also been accelerated by the rise in frequency of music industry legal disputes over sampling. With legal problems becoming an increasingly regular inevitability, the consequential knock-on effect meant the actual cost of including extracts from other people's copyrighted material rendered the creative payback of sampling-based composition more trouble than it might be worth to a small, or commercially savvy, act. In lyrical terms, developing on from his previous reliance on exhilarating film dialogue samples, braggadocio-fuelled raps, and dance-friendly vocal hooks or ecstatic tomes of love, Clear saw Simenon developing very specific subject matter for his tracks. New influences, and, therefore, his fascinations, for this collection built up to become very obviously literature-based. Simenon had taken part in the spoken-word orientated Sahara Blue album project led by Hector Zazou, which was initially released in 1992 (before being briefly withdrawn for legal reasons). The album was inspired by, and built around, the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, setting spoken word performances to all manner of left field musical contributions from the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and John Cale; but as to whether this was an inspiration on the direction of Clear is unknown. Lead track on Clear, and first single, Bug Powder Dust, was a blatant homage to the life and impact of William Burroughs, specifically his Naked Lunch novel. In a nod to old ways, Simenon starts the track with a dialogue sample from the hybrid-Burroughs character in the Naked Lunch film ("I think it's time to discuss your, err... philosophy of drug use as it relates to artistic endeavour.") On later track, 5ml Barrel, controversial novelist Will Self contributed a rare vocal performance, providing dark spoken-word lyrics that relayed an opiate addict's delusion of his collapsing veins being like motorways, due to the amount of impurities that had invaded his body. While If You Reach The Border features beat-poet Leslie Winer on the other end of a telephone, drifting in and out of the song, as she vents through a drug-haze on the supposed ups and downs of a toxic relationship. The album launched various singles after Bug Powder Dust, including Sandcastles, 1 To 1 Religion, and Darkheart, but critical acclaim failed to translate into commercial success. However, despite Bug Powder Dust failing to scale the upper heights of the mainstream UK singles chart, the track has since proved enduring, featuring on many lists of key British hip-hop tracks. Remixes of the track by Chemical Brothers, and much slower, trippier versions by Kruder & Dorfmeister and La Funk Mob would keep Bomb the Bass in the public eye for longer, becoming staples for chill-out and trip hop compilation albums around the time. As a headlining act, Bomb the Bass would remain dormant throughout the rest of the 1990s, with Simenon concentrating upon his work as a producer and remixer for other artists. So, whilst the Bomb the Bass handle would be removed from commercially successful releases, Simenon would appear to be happier leasing the brand out to others. Of note was his additional production and remixing duties on the one-off soundtrack single Play Dead by Björk and David Arnold. The latter would prove a massive UK hit in 1994, and go some way towards establishing Björk as a mainstream artist, and an introduction to many of Arnold, the man that would go on to achieve huge acclaim composing new James Bond scores. Other names included David Bowie, Gavin Friday and Depeche Mode among others; with the latter two projects poised to have a major effect on Simenon. The Gavin Friday album project, Shag Tobacco, not only catapulted Friday into the mainstream (spawning the track Angel which found its way onto the hugely successful soundtrack of the Romeo & Juliet movie), but also caught the attention of a pair of British musicians on the look out for a new producer: Dave Gahan and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode. Says Gahan, "There was loads of names being thrown at us (to produce Depeche Mode's next album after Songs of Faith & Devotion), but in the end we picked (Simenon) because Martin (Gore) and I really liked the Gavin Friday album that he did. Shag Tobacco is an absolutely brilliant album, (and) we really loved the sounds he produced."  As a result, Simenon was brought on board to produce what would become Depeche Mode's first album without multi-instrumentalist and production-strong Alan Wilder, Ultra; a project that would demand eighteen months, due to worsening divisions within the band acerbated by Dave Gahan's battle with heroin addiction. Upon release, the album went straight into the UK charts at number one, selling 40,000 copies in its first week of release, and launched a number of singles, including Barrel of a Gun, It's No Good, and Home However, despite being a hit and going on to achieve over three million sales worldwide, the project would have another - less positive - effect on Simenon. Quoted in the biography, Depeche Mode: Black Celebration by Steve Malins, Simenon confessed, "I just felt f*cked by the end of the recording, and I carried on working in January and February 1997, which was the worst thing I could have done. I started to feel really ill. So I took a break and had a few months off. I was just mentally and physically exhausted." The work in question, which took the form of recording sessions with Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto would not surface for many years, leaving a further single with Depeche Mode, Only When I Lose Myself as the last major Simenon outing for many years. "It'd been non-stop for more than 10 years, and I was just burnt out. It all just caught up, and took its toll; just left me feeling very, very uninspired." Continuing into the early part of the 21st century, material from Tim Simenon was rare, and mainstream exposure to the name Bomb the Bass non-existent. Rumours circulated that he had given up music. However, these rumours would be scotched in 2000 when Simenon launched an Amsterdam-based record label, called Electric Tones. In 2001 Simenon broke cover, having been nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for the theme tune to the remake of the BBC television series Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), which he co-wrote with David Arnold. And the only new material to surface during what would prove to be a fourteen year break from mainstream view would come sporadically, with some even featured under a different name on Electric Tones. First out would be Fast, which featured Shawn Lee, and surfaced as a track on a 4-track compilation 12-inch single released on the We Love You label. Next would come the Clear Cut EP, which was released on Morr Music in 2001. The EP, which consisted of radical remixes of the same one track, presented a Simenon that had ditched his hip-hop and pop leanings in favour of a radically different style that shimmered somewhere between the heavily edited dance music sub-genre micro house, and avant-garde electronic territories. The material was initiated when Tim Simenon invited Markus Acher and Portuguese vocalist Valerie Trebeljah from German Indietronic act, Lali Puna, to collaborate on Clear Cut when it was at demo stage. Having then farmed out remix duties to other friends, Simenon was so happy with the radical directions each mix took he released all five as a manifesto of contemporary electronica possibilities. A full list of the included remixes reads like a who's who of progressive acts from the period, including versions by Herrmann and Kleine, Opiate, Arovane, Christian Kleine - and Bomb The Bass. After which came the Tracks EP, recorded in collaboration with Jack Dangers, from Meat Beat Manifesto, and the first actual Bomb the Bass material to be released via Electric Tones. With all tracks co-credited to Bomb the Bass & Jack Dangers, the recording sessions were listed as having taken place years earlier, in 1998, suggesting the material had been pulled from the vaults. In time, it would transpire that the material with Dangers had originally been intended (as what would later prove to have been a false-start) for the fourth Bomb the Bass album. Further to this, an additional remix of Clear Cut would feature as the fourth track on the Electric Tones compilation, Electric Tones 9101112. And several other cuts (Robot Finger and Ikara) would even come under the alternative name, Flow Creator (on Electric Tones 1234). All were released as limited, numbered pressings on vinyl (perhaps purposefully) without mainstream fanfare, and received no promotion beyond reviews - albeit favourable ones - in specialist dance music publications. Quietly in November 2006, news was posted by Simenon on the Bomb the Bass Myspace page that a new album had been recorded, and was about to be mixed. Much later, in January 2008, and again without fanfare through their Myspace page, it was announced that the Future Chaos album would indeed see the light of day - in May of the same year. Performed, for the best part, with Simenon working on a vintage Minimoog synth, the album consists of nine tracks that are markedly more electronic and stripped down than previous efforts. In doing so, and with the strong use of the analogue Minimoog lending a cohesive feel across the set, Simenon appears to have reset Bomb the Bass back to dance music's sparse, machine-like origins. Out go the soulful aspects of house, in favour of amplifying the genre's more chilly European aspects of angular rhythms and simplified synth tones. As with all previous Bomb the Bass albums, Future Chaos was a collaborative outing. Simenon teamed up with former Screaming Trees and Queens Of The Stone Age singer, Mark Lanegan, Fujiya & Miyagi, and Richard Thair and Jakeone of Toob. Most notable is the appearance of Paul Conboy, who is best known for his partnership with Adrian Corker in A.P.E. and Corker Conboy. Conboy sings on five tracks, has co-written a great deal of the music, and also co-produces alongside Simenon, making this the most collaborative Bomb the Bass album to date. Adam Sky has also become involved with the project, by way of contributing a remix of the track Butterfingers. With Bomb the Bass now up and running as a viable four-piece live band, rather than production orientated studio entity, live concert dates are being slowly added to coincide with the intended autumn 2008 release of Future Chaos. Again, Paul Conboy will feature, adding keyboards and vocals to the live set-up. Low key warm-up shows were undertaken in February 2008 in Europe - due, no doubt, to Simenon currently residing in Amsterdam. In keeping with the multi-media ethos of the band, video artists will be on hand to scratch video and animation projections over the stage. It was originally thought that Butterfingers (featuring Fujiya & Miyagi) would be the first single released from Future Chaos, as an animated short film for the track surfaced on Youtube in March 2008.. The clip, which was produced by Perish Factory visualizes the new minimal sound of the band by featuring an animated Minimoog - as used on the track.. However, it eventually became apparent that the film was not automatically connected to a single release (as with the two further clips that followed), but were part of a quiet viral marketing move, which succeeded in generating chatter on online forums and left field online music sites. Reviewing Butterfingers, Daily Music Guide described it as showing "the new Bomb the Bass plug straight into a place where scuffed Formica is sexier than leather, and red LED is the font of all knowledge. Having worked through all those zeroes and ones only to come up wanting, Bomb the Bass have seemingly gone back to come forwards once again, with the result being a track that easily lives up to the sum of its parts." In May 2008, the second Future Chaos linked Bomb the Bass film appeared on the internet - this time for So Special. Featuring vocals by Paul Conboy, the promotional short was directed by Nathalie Teirlinck whose award-winning short film Anemone was selected for Locarno and The Times BFI film festivals in 2007) and Ben Van Alboom (a member of the European photographers collective, Angels & Ghosts). The film featured hidden-camera footage of trans-sexual prostitutes working in Brussels. In an online interview with Tim Simenon in May 2008, it was remarked that Future Chaos would finally be released in August 2008. In the same interview, Simenon commented that the album had taken so long to complete partly because he had wanted to change direction, to take on a more simplistic, less cluttered feel - necessitating a restart and re-record. The same week, a new track, Fuzzbox, - apparently the last to be completed for the album - was made available as a free download at the website of the UK radio station, Xfm. A single sleeve was also made available free as part of the download. This being the first sighting of new Bomb the Bass artwork/branding, the style suggested the look of the campaign will be one of collage all done by the Brazilian artist Sesper. At the beginning of July 2008 the band's official Myspace page posted news that Simenon had finally signed a new recording contract with the Berlin-based international label !K7, and that the Future Chaos album - featuring nine tracks, plus the option of extra tracks on different formats - would be released globally on September 15 of that year (with the U.S. following slightly later on 30 September). The news bulletin also stated that So Special (with Paul Conboy on lead vocals) would be released 25 August as the first official single ahead of the album. Future Chaos was finally released through !K7 in all territories (except the US) on September 15, 2008 (with the States to follow on September 30). The album, which contained nine tracks was made available on three main formats: single disc CD, a limited edition double CD (with eight remixes, and a bonus track, Star, featuring Paul Conboy on vocals), vinyl, and download (again, containing the added tenth track, Star). At the beginning of October 2008, and to maintain momentum between the release of singles, Simenon posted a fourth online film via Youtube. Directed by Corin Hardy (The Horrors, Guillemots, Keane and The Feeling), Fuzzbox featured stop-frame animation toys, everyday objects and specially commissioned photographs of Jon Spencer (the track's vocalist) mouthing lines from the song. Butterfingers, featuring Fujiya & Miyagi, was finally released as the second single from the Future Chaos album, (globally) on November 3 2008 (with the US to follow on 25 November). Made available on 12" vinyl and download, the single included remixes by Adam Sky and Various. Black River was the third single to be released from Future Chaos. Made available 10 February 2009 on download, the track features Mark Lanegan on vocals. New remixes were made available, so in addition to an earlier recut by Gui Boratto, further versions were done by Maps and Patrice Baumel.  Beyond the Future: new album work In September 2009, using Twitter, Simenon revealed that work was almost complete on the follow-up to Future Chaos. Around the same time and also via Twitter, Jakeone of Toob announced he had just completed remix duties on a new track called The Infinites.