Bass men Appleblim and Second Storey break beats, boundaries, the mould, everything…
Though you may be unfamiliar with ALSO, the chances are you’ll have come across the two chaps whose initials make up the name, Appleblim (Laurie Osborne) and Second Storey (Alec Storey). See what they did there?
As Al Tourettes, Storey releases largely experimental excursions into whatever electronic genre takes his fancy, while in his Second Storey guise he delivered a much-fancied IDM album on label du jour Houndstooth last year. Bristolian Osborne, meanwhile, comes from a dubstep background. A resident DJ at genre hub FWD>>, he ran the revered Skull Disco label with Shackleton, where he issued a series of collaborative EPs, including ‘Soundboy’s Bones Get Buried In The Dirt’, ‘Soundboy’s Ashes Get Chopped Up And Snorted’ and ‘Soundboy’s Ashes Get Hacked Up And Spat Out In Disgust’.
Skull Disco closed in 2008, sadly before the phlegm of Soundboy’s ashes could be licked up by the dog. But the label was instrumental in suggesting new paths for dubstep, signposting the future in which we now find ourselves – one where the very term “dubstep” is largely redundant, and where noses are gleefully thumbed at the restrictions of either the 4/4 format of the dancefloor or indeed any real notion of genre.
From such fertile soil springs ALSO. The project began four years ago with the ‘Lipsmacker’ EP, credited to Appleblim & Al Tourettes. Since then, the pair have reconvened as ALSO to refine and recalibrate their sound, releasing two EPs with a third on the way – all of which are compiled on this album, along with a new track, ‘Blyford Bass’.
Befitting its creators’ penchant for zipped-up jackets and flat-peaked baseball caps, there’s no shortage of restless, shuffling beats and boinging bass here. Many a breakbeat was harmed in its production. Beyond that, however, the bets are off. Techno, house, bass, broken beat – all tags apply as every track shimmers with idiosyncrasy – each one like the curveball tune thrown in to shake up a DJ set. And such is the stylistic breadth that it could shake up almost any DJ set, from the dark arches of London to the big rigs of Ibiza.
Hardly a surprise then, when the arpeggiated chords of the first track, ‘Arpegmonger’, put you in mind of something Sasha might use as a palette cleanser, while the aquatic wash of ‘Formation’ evokes a kind of comedown euphoria. Indeed, the best tracks here have an otherworldly sense quite at odds with their urban roots. They explode into psychedelic, intergalactic splinters that recall the highs of house, both deep and progressive.
‘Sid’s Conundrum’, for example, is a rumbling, scattershot beast of a thing that builds and peaks before building again. Elsewhere, in keeping with the album’s genre-busting, grid-destroying qualities, there’s a loose, jammed feel to proceedings which is especially evident in the lengthy ‘Rant Check Parts 1 & 2’. When even the more predictable offerings such as ‘Dive Prophets’ and ‘Blyford Bass’ offer up secret moments of surprise and beauty, you know you’re in the presence of something rather special.
True, by conjoining three EPs, Osborne and Storey forego a cohesiveness that might have propelled the album from very good to great, but if they can maintain this kind of form – and if they can resist doing a Beta Band and sacrificing the quality of their three EPs on the altar of a tepid follow-up – then we’re in for a treat.