Bomb the Bass is the umbrella title for the output of British musician and producer, Tim Simenon. Have been active since 1987, Bomb the Bass has gone through many musical transformations. On their fifth full length album, Bomb the Bass presents the same chic electronic music as on their last record, 2008’s Future Chaos.
Bomb the Bass’ 80s output was the precursor to the modern mash up. Their biggest hit “Beat Dis” sampled tracks from Afrika Bambaataa and Kurtis Blow to Aretha Franklin and Jayne Mansfield. But the days of sample-packed tracks seems so far away for Bomb the Bass.
Bomb the Bass, now, makes tracks that sound like they belong in car commercials. The music is somewhere between dubstep and downtempo. It has a lot of elements in common with Burial; its electronic music that can equally be danced to or chilled to.
Bomb the Bass does not do his own vocals and since he has given up sampling, the album features various guest vocalists. Guest vocalists include Kelley Polar, The Battle of Land and Sea, and Martin Gore among others. The album’s finest vocals come from long time Bomb the Bass coordinator, Paul Conboy. His deep, distinct voice adds a serene quality to the four songs he is featured on. The best is perhaps “Burn Less Brighter”. The track straddles the line between 80’s Kraftwerk-inspired rock and modern dubstep. The addition of Conboy’s vocals makes the track sound like Anderson to me.
On the other side, the weakest vocal performance come from Kelley Polar. I can understand why Bomb the Bass would chose to work with her. She doesn’t have a strong voice so it won’t over power the music; instead it should enhance the music. But on “Start”, the vocals seem slightly off key and really undercut the song’s instrumental. The Battle of Land and Sea shows Polar how to do female vocals right on “Up the Mountain”, a much stronger song but with the same vocal approach.
Overall, Back to the Light has some great moments but I can not help but feel it’s missing something. It sounds almost too slick and polished from an artist that historically has been so raw and innovative. For what it is, Back to the Light is good but its easy to hear the name Bomb the Bass and expect more.