Bomb the Bass
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|Bomb the Bass|
Tim Simenon, Zürich '08
|Genres||Electronica, hip hop, downtempo, trip hop|
|Labels||!K7, Rhythm King, Electric Tones, Stoned Heights|
|Associated acts||Neneh Cherry, Depeche Mode, Justin Warfield, Paul Conboy, Jah Wobble, Sinéad O'Connor, Atticus Ross, Consolidated, A.P.E., Lali Puna, Jack Dangers|
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."
Pushing the needle: The accelerated success of Beat DisEdit
Whilst the bass line and drum tracks of Beat Dis were written by Simenon, the rest of the track was compiled from samples. Having already taken a part-time sound course at The School of Audio Engineering in Holloway, Simenon was 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."
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 culture's growing fondness for 1970s 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.
Into Unknown TerritoryEdit
In 1991 "Love So True" with vocals from Loretta Heywood was the first single of new Bomb the Bass material. It 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, co-written with Guy Sigsworth and vocalist Loretta Heywood featured several prominent samples from the Japan track "Ghosts" (as featured on the band's final studio album, Tin Drum).
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.
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).
New direction is ClearEdit
Break from the beat: Bomb the Bass as production outfitEdit
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. Of note was his additional production and remixing duties on the one-off soundtrack single Play Dead by Björk and David Arnold. 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 and 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." 
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."
1990s become 2000s, become Electric TonesEdit
The Tracks EP was 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.
Future Chaos: Bomb the Bass in the 21st centuryEdit
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. In January 2008 it was announced that the Future Chaos album would be released in May of the same year.
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.
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."
Bomb the Bass confirmed they would perform their first London gig in almost 20 years, at the London Astoria on 4 June 2008; and are also billed as appearing at the UK dance music festival, The Big Chill, on 2 August 2008, in Ledbury, Herefordshire and the Zürich festival, Lethargy '08.
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.
At the beginning of October 2008, 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 3 November 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.
Back to the racks, Back to Light: BTB in 2009-10Edit
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.
In November 2009, FM Radio Gods announced their involvement in the upcoming Bomb the Bass album, having completed remix duties on a track called Boy/Girl. BTB also announced the first single would be The Infinites (with Paul Conboy on vocals), and is due for release 22 December 2009. It is due to be followed by three more singles (one a month for the following months) until the album is released in March 2010.
The next month, Bomb the Bass announced the new album of ten new tracks, produced in conjunction with Brazil's Gui Boratto (who first worked with BTB on a remix of the Black River single) would be released through !K7 in March 2010. Called Back to Light after a line taken from the first single (The Infinites), the album would be a development on from the analogue electronic direction taken with Future Chaos; yet more uptempo, inspired in part by the band's live shows in 2008. The relative speed in which Back to Light was recorded (twelve months, compared to the fourteen-year gestation of Future Chaos) suggests that Simenon's return to Bomb the Bass duties is a permanent one.
Albums and EPsEdit
- Into The Dragon (Rhythm King Records, 1988)
- The CD Singles (Box Set) (Rhythm King Records, 1989)
- Unknown Territory (Rhythm King Records, 1991)
- Clear (Fourth and Broadway, 1995)
- Beat Dis - The Very Best of Bomb The Bass (Camden, 1999)
- Clear Cut (EP) (Morr Music, 2001)
- Tracks (12-inch EP) (with Jack Dangers) (Electric Tones, 2001)
- Future Chaos (!K7 / Electric Tones, 2008)
- Back to Light (!K7 / Electric Tones, 2010)
- In The Sun (O*Solo Recordings, 2013)
- Mega Dis EP (O*Solo Recordings, 2013)
|1988||"Beat Dis"||2||4||8||10||6||3||4||—||—||5||1||Into The Dragon|
|"Megablast/Don't Make Me Wait"||6||12||29||—||33||—||19||—||—||19||—|
|"Say A Little Prayer" (feat. Maureen)||10||11||9||18||—||—||—||—||54||21||—|
|1991||"Love So True"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Unknown Territory|
|"Winter In July"||7||21||6||37||39||—||21||32||—||—||—|
|"The Air You Breathe"||52||—||54||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1992||"Keep Giving Me Love" (a re-recording of Love So True)||62||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||single only|
|1994||"Bug Powder Dust" (feat. Justin Warfield)||24||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||34||—||—||Clear|
|"Darkheart" (feat. Spikey Tee)||35||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||95||—||—|
|1995||"1 To 1 Religion" (feat. Carlton)||53||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2001||"Clear Cut" (feat. Lali Puna)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||singles only|
|2008||"Butterfingers" (feat. Fujiya & Miyagi)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Future Chaos|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
Other promo/download only singles
- Empire (1996) promo only
- So Special (featuring Paul Conboy) (26 August 2008) download
- Butterfingers (featuring Fujiya & Miyagi) (4 November / November 25 (USA), 2008) 12" & download
- Black River (featuring Mark Lanegan) (10 February 2009) download
- The Infinites (featuring Paul Conboy) (22 December 2009) download
- X Ray Eyes (featuring Kelley Polar) (20 January 2010) download
- Boy / Girl (featuring Paul Conboy) (18 February 2010) download
- Up the Mountain (featuring The Battle of Land & Sea) (2 March 2010) download
- X Ray Eyes (The Remix EP) (featuring Kelley Polar) (1 June 2010) download
- Wandering Star (19 April 2013) download
- Time Falls Apart (26 July 2013) download
- Just This Universe (30 August 2013) download
- IMO Records. "Bomb the Bass Biography", IMO Records, London, Retrieved on 25 January 2012.
- Tingen, Paul (1995-03-01). "Tim Simenon: Bomb The Bass". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "Bomb the Bass: Biography". AllMusic. Rhythmone. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "BBC - Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Brits25 - Unfinished Sympathy". BBC. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- Reynolds, Simon (2008-02-08). "Energy Flash". Picador.
- Malins, Steve (2006). "Depeche Mode: Black Celebration". André Deutsch.
- "Tim Simenon: q&a". Steve Jansen. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- Simenon, Tim (2008-03-01). "Myspace page: Bomb The Bass". Tim Simenon. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- Jansen, Steve (2008-04-21). "Review of Butterfingers by Bomb The Bass". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Jansen, Steve (2008-03-29). "Interview with Tim Simenon". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
- Simenon, Tim (2008-07-20). "Myspace page: Bomb The Bass". Tim Simenon. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- "Bomb The Bass (@bomb_the_bass)". Twitter. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- "Jake Williams (@jakeoneuk)". Twitter. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- UK. "Bomb the Bass | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
- "09.12.09 - The Infinites remixes & album news van Bomb the Bass op Myspace". Blogs.myspace.com. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
- "Official Charts Company: Bomb The Bass". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- "Bomb The Bass - German Chart". charts.de. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
- Top 50 peaks: "australian-charts.com > Bomb the Bass in Australian Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- Top 100 peaks from January 1990 to December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
- "Say a Little Prayer": "The ARIA Report issue 252, week ending 11th December 1994: Chartifacts column". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- "Darkheart": "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 30 Apr 1995". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- "Bomb The Bass - US Dance Club Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2014-05-12.