"Bass music" has been a big deal in the last 18 months, with the term almost becoming as misused as "electro" was during the mid-'00s. But nobody could accuse Astral People of bastardising the sound, with their most recent event featuring Hessle Audio co-owners Pearson Sound and Ben UFO, friend of the family Pariah, party starter XXXY and up-and-coming leftfield star Slow Magic.
Unfortunately, as excellent as the lineup was, the club wasn't of the same calibre. Despite being a purpose-built music venue, The Metro struggles with the most important thing: the sound. Their system is outdated, muddy and clips far too easily, especially when tasked with electronic music (it seems to handle rock slightly better). And there really is no excuse for a malfunctioning turntable when you employ multiple sound technicians.
The couple of dozen people who made the effort to arrive early for Slow Magic were rewarded with an energetic and unique live set that really deserved a larger audience. Aside from the tunes themselves, which were a fresh and emotive blend of electronica and dubstep, the addition of live drumming really made the set stand out as more than just your average “live” laptop gig.
By the time XXXY stepped up the crowd had swelled to the largest it would get all night, but the venue was still at maybe half-capacity. Sadly, that's a risk you take when running an event between Christmas and New Year. But what the room lacked in numbers it made up for in vibe, with XXXY’s selection of funky, cheeky house and broken beats. Think slap bass guitars, disco synths and quirky vocal edits occasionally peppered with bootlegs of pop and soul artists like Angie Stone.
Pariah continued the four-to-the-floor vibes, laying down a beautifully mixed set of punchy house and techno which varied from groovy and soulful to dark and industrial. There were of course plenty of unreleased dubs, but it was also nice to hear some classic speed garage throughout the set, reminding the crowd where much of today's bass music comes from.
Things then got mighty broken, choppy and ghetto with Pearson Sound and Ben UFO. Pearson Sound's set focused predominantly on booty-influenced vibes, with everything from trap to low-down, shuffly ghetto house and sparse, sub-heavy breakbeats. His own track "Blanked" was definitely a highlight, as was his latest bomb, "Clutch." Technically he was fantastic, easily switching up genres without so much as a loose mix. Ben UFO's set started out a little more linear with some great house and techno jams (including the amazing "New For U" by Andrés), but it wasn’t long before he got a little more adventurous and showcased his trademark “everything but the kitchen sink” style, seamlessly moving between genres with the occasional assistance of effects. From whacked-out, spacey breakbeat such as Objekt's "Cactus" to aggressive acid house, and nods to his label mates Pangaea and Pearson Sound, Ben UFO's set was the perfect example of how broad the style known as bass music can really be.