By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
San Francisco's Lorin Ashton, aka Bassnectar, is as much an avant-garde composer as he is a DJ, electronic musician and producer. But his compositional skills, likely because they often employ a recognizable dancehall thud, don't get the attention they truly deserve. Changing from double- to triple-meter and shifting the pitch on sampled vocals (sometimes at the same time) are just two of Ashton's favored tools for mashing.
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Over the course of seven albums and four EPs, the music of Bassnectar has consistently evolved and progressed for the better. 2005's Mesmerizing The Ultra is perhaps Ashton's highwater, featuring key collaborations from unlikely folks such as KRS-One, Buckethead and Michael Kang from the String Cheese Incident. That kind of collaboration isn't solely confirmed to his records, either: Bassnectar's live shows can sometimes feature up to two dozen participants. Rappers, instrumentalists, DJs and graffiti and visual artists all do their thing while Ashton lays down and manipulates the grooves.
On record, Ashton does all manner of experimentation and his "songs" earn an interesting neo-classical feel, a la Steve Reich or Terry Riley. But live, it's all about pulse and dynamics. The fact that Ashton can succeed so well at both levels perhaps goes a long way in explaining his ever-increasing fan base.
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