Bass pioneers interviewed…
Bass has a timeless quality. From the trumpets which demolished the walls of Jericho to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark, bass is a constant thread binding the universe, an amorphous, ever-influential quality which can move the body in subtle, mysterious ways.
In this fashion, the title of Pinch and Adrian Sherwood’s new album ‘Late Night Endless’ is only appropriate. The culmination of a creative relationship which kicked off with a pair of 12 inches and now spans more than two years, it’s a fusion, a singular document which unites dub with dubstep, On-U with Tectonic, Sherwood with Pinch.
“We spent about two years finding out the right sonic we wanted to be represented on an album,” Adrian explains, “because if you see the two 12 inches they’re kind of more song-oriented and they’re kind of more… half Tectonic, half On-U. Whereas the album I think sounds like a combination of the pair of us, rather than a bit of each.”
Developing their ideas across a burst of 12 inches, the two producers were able to use their astonishing live show to create an artistic feedback loop, aiding them in tracing the correct direction for the project. “Interestingly, ‘Run Them Away’ was the first one we started on but it was also the last one we finished. It sort of saw the journey,” Pinch explains. “There was an element of learning and re-introducing tweaked ideas as a result of playing things out live and there was a sort of element of feedback relating to that side of things as well.”
Invited to perform at Sonar in Tokyo, Pinch and Sherwood knew they had to go full throttle into the live arena. “It wasn’t just a debut gig, it was on the main stage at Tokyo Sonar after LFO and before BoyzNoize! It was straight in the deep end so there was a lot of preparation which went on,” the Tectonic producer continues. “Essentially, we were effectively building a studio onstage The live shows have been a good sort of experimental playground to test the material.”
“Part of the nature of the live set is that everything is pretty much interchangeable,” he continues. “I think that was part and parcel of an evolutionary process of us working together which started off with the simple ambition of knocking together a few exclusive dubplates which we could hold back from anyone else and run in our DJ sets. What’s evolved into ‘Late Night Endless’ is a kind of mutation of our combined sonics rather than a collage of our sound, if that makes sense.”
A bold document, ‘Late Night Endless’ feels very much like an ‘album’ in the classic sense. A journey split across two sides of wax, the way the material ebbs and flows, rises and falls feels extremely organic, unforced – as though this were simply the natural means of conveyance for the ideas therein.
“I wanted an album for my record collection!” chuckles Adrian. “I love albums, I absolutely love ’em. I love the fact that I’ve got a finished vinyl and CD version of this record in front of me, as opposed to a mixtape. We’re doing Sherwood and Pinch mixtapes at the moment but this is like a little statement and it’s something that we both hope will sound good in five, ten plus years as a record from this time we’re in now. It will still sound listenable, very cool in whatever environment you plunk it in.”
“I think it’s a format which is unfortunately becoming less valid in the increasingly more digital age,” sighs Pinch, “but it’s a different experience. It’s like watching a really good film rather than following a series, for example. So what we’re doing is that there is an element of distinction between the live sets and the album insofar as the live sets are a bit heavier, a bit more full on and bit more suited to that environment but at the same time we’re conscious of the fact that albums are listened to in a different environment so hopefully there’s a nice balance in the expression of that on the album.”
Making full use of Adrian Sherwood’s exhaustive bank of samples, ‘Late Night Endless’ is an album that simply sounds amazing. Through headphones or on speakers, on a system or at home the sheer attention paid to sound, the art of listening is breathtaking. “We it was a great achievement when we got the finishing line,” Pinch explains. “Sending off the final versions for mastering Adrian’s studio engineer pointed out that since we started working together in the Sherwood & Pinch folder on the On-U computer there was a total of 269 mixes and versions. There’s a lot of experimenting that’s gone in there and lots of different versions of tracks and whatnot. The point being: it’s quite a journey to get to where we’ve got to in terms of finding a shared sonic.”
For Adrian Sherwood, the infinite possibilities harboured within technology – and within themselves – sits in a clear lineage which stems back towards classic dub reggae innovators. “We’ve modelled it on a lot of the old Jamaican soundsystem operators, where you record sessions and then you record several versions. There are versions flying around of all the tracks on this album that only I and Rob have got. We very much are into the idea of versioning all our rhythms. If the rhythms are good enough you can put a singer on and a DJ, an instrumental version or dub cut. And that still, I’m absolutely obsessed by. That’s why we’ve got so many mixes. We could have put different versions on the record but we felt this was the best version.”
At times bordering on the politcal, ‘Late Night Endless’ is a continually meditative work – through tumultuous waves of bass, the production pair seem to challenge the listener to burrow inward. “Well, I think anything that puts you in a contemplative headspace, let’s you make your own mind up, is a good thing. And I’ve always liked that about music which – like a good book – invites you to paint half the picture yourself. So I definitely feel that there’s a lot of aspects of that to the album. But then, that’s up to the listener to make up their mind, really.”
Which, of course, leads us straight back to the title itself. Both definitive and open-ended, the pair admit that there’s no strict meaning behind ‘Late Night Endless’. “I guess some of the music just fits night time listening,” states Pinch. “For me, anyway. And I like the idea of music existing in infinite contexts, a perfectly existing environment which can loop around. That was part of the idea of it.”
“Again, it’s something which invites interpretation relevant to the person looking at it or listening to it,” he says, “and I think ‘Late Night Endless’ could be anything from insomnia and anxiety to an endless pilled up night listening to techno through to the weird stuff which is on telly late at night. There’s a lot of situations it applies to.”
“We’re both kind of BPM conscious as well,” Adrian admits, “and when you’re playing you try to create a journey. Meditative is the thing. The whole record. So if you are listening to it on your headphones or you’re playing it in the background it works but then if anybody wants to check the BPMs they can literally drop those tunes in the set or begin and end an evening with it. The idea is that it will flow. If I put it on in the afternoon or something it will sit really nicely as a flowing piece of background music.”
“Aiming for an element of timelessness was one of the intentions of it,” adds Pinch. “The point is the show is constantly evolving and constantly dynamic. It’s going to be something that develops and progresses and develops – an ongoing process.”
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‘Late Night Endless’ is out now.
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