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First Spin: Download Bassnectar’s Monstrous ‘Ugly’


Bassnectar (Lorin Ashton) often gets lumped in with America’s dubstep faction, but he’s actually traveled a different path than most of his Left Coast bass brethren, from his origins in the breaks scene to his continued stylistic promiscuity. On “Ugly,” a teaser for his upcoming album VAVA VOOM, the hard-charging headbanger throws down the “drumstep” gauntlet, challenging ravers to keep up at 174 beats per minute.

“Ugly” moves like a Godzilla-scale lawnmower plowing through a fife and drum corps, opening with an extended volley of rapid-fire snare tattoos before striking an uneasy balance between half-time dubstep cadences and open-throttle drum ‘n’ bass. The bass is as monstrous as you’d expect, but the real action is in those marching drums, which lend a sense of motion you don’t get from stock breakbeats. A 16-bar rap pieced together with vocals from Eligh and Yak Ballz is a kind of PowerPoint presentation of the mayhem the track will inspire (“It’s gonna be kickin’ hard ’cause it’s ugly / ‘Cause people knock your ass down ’cause it’s ugly”), but, come festival season, you’ll be able to figure all that out for yourself.

VAVA VOOM is due April 10 from Ashton’s Amorphous label, and it features further collabs with Lupe Fiaso, ill.Gates, Mimi Page, Tina Malia, and Jansten; intriguingly, there’s also a song called “Pennywise Tribute.” (We can only hope that means a brostep version of “Bro Hymn.”)