VA: Basswerk Sessions Vol. 2

Basswerk Sessions Vol. 2 is a superb drum & bass overview and an ideal entrance point for the neophyte listener. Furthermore, the comp, issued by Cologne-based Basswerk, offers ample proof of the genre's range when placed in the right hands. While titanic bass lines growl and epic drum breaks slam throughout the two discs' twenty-three tracks (many formerly issued only on vinyl and on CD for the first time), the release extends far beyond two hours of relentless one-dimensional breaks (or, as the label itself contends, “everything is allowed in the jungle”).

Basswerk founder Heiner Kruse weighs in with a good number of standout tracks under his alias The Green Man. The sparkling burner “xxx” establishes a high standard at the outset, while “Feb 21st,” a collaboration with Cytech (Matthias Keufen), is even more epic. Though it opens in a splendorous paradise inhabited by angelic choirs, fulminating breaks quickly push “Collision,” his other collaboration with Cytech, into heavier territory. Compared to Kraftwerk's bucolic promenade, The Green Man's trip down the “Autobahn” is frenetic, while his elegant “Nu Wheels” sounds almost minimalistic.

Other peaks? Following a delectable opening of solo breaks, Konrad & Coda's classic “Don't Let Me...” takes an irresistibly soulful turn when Margie's vocal sweetens the mix. Immediately following this beguiling charmer, Misanthrop's (Michael Bräuninger) thunderous “Eis RMX (edit)” churns with a thrashing roar that's simply beautiful; listen to how masterfully he stretches tension to the breaking point before unleashing it with awesome force. Basztart & Acoustic B's “Goblinson” nicely twists the acoustic bass throb from Roni Size's “Paper Bag” inside out and adds a hint of jazz with Michael Meyer's tenor sax. In addition, Taxidriver's sleek “Give It Up” glides serenely, while Giana Brotherz' “Wüstensturm” spreads lethal acid over his breaks. Admittedly, their “Crossed Roots” flirts a bit too much with guitar raunch for my liking, and the cheesy vocoder line “I sing the funk electrick (sic)” on The Green Man's “Funk Electrick” might have been better omitted. But such moments are few and far between in this consistently strong collection.

May 2005