Bassnectar has amassed a die-hard following due to his electrifying, intense and trippy live shows. His use of drops differs in live shows compared to his album versions, and that is typically the only difference between his album and live concerts. This ability to change what the listener is used to hearing and giving them more suspense than expected is what keeps his fans coming back for more. It is fairly common knowledge that when listening to dubstep the ideal and really only way to fully enjoy it is while amassed in a crowd of eager listeners at a festival. The reason to buy such an album without the proper equipment to truly enjoy the range of frequencies and effects I would only assume is to play the album in a slightly more optimized listening environment. (i.e: At a club, in a vehicle with decent speakers, etc).
The First Listen:
On first inspection of Bassnectar’s album “Divergent Spectrum” it seems that an audiophile’s basement equipped with simple 2.1 speakers just won’t cut it to get the full effect of what the music is capable of on the full spectrum of frequencies. Thus, I have listened to the entire album in a vehicle with Bose speakers and had the eq set at default to feel the full production value and frequency response intended. Getting into specifics of the album now, many of the tracks garner the formulaic “sine-wave crunch bass-punch” using triplets to offset the eighth-note/sixteenth-note rhythmic pulse. A prime example of this somewhat cliché, but expected dubstep phenomenon is in the chorus of the first cut “Upside Down”. This first track is supposed to be the stand out cut off of the album because it hits hard the entire duration. There are a couple tracks that come close to or surpass “Upside Down’s” drive, but the majority of the rest are primarily used as filler. You don’t need a music degree to realize that most albums are based on this filler, as only certain songs can be listened to more than once and become addicting to listen to them again. Only The Beatles could write an entire album filled with addictive, non-filler songs in my opinion.
That being said, “Voodoo” is by far my choice for a song that I can listen to again and again, regardless if it’s in the proper listening environment. It has a certain inexplicable way to make it seem like I am in outer space, or listening to a classic space-war video game. The use the synthesised melody on the keys is very catchy, and the hip-hop drum track lends well to it. The bass-synth-crunch chords really do add the necessary canvas for the track.
Other tracks worth noting that demand at least a second listen are some of the obligatory remixes. The Gogol Bordello track “Immigraniada” is remixed with the emphasis on the original track and not so much placing dubstep-y synthesised-cruch on top to crowd the melody, form or essence of the track. This technique is not used in “Red Step” by Bassnectar and Jantsen. He pretty much makes the original track unrecognizable but it is a remix that stands out from the others on the record. It has a deeper perceived listening environment compared to his other remixes, and is audible even with car speakers.
The Final Word:
“Divergent Spectrum” is worth picking up if you have an addiction to well a utilized dubstep maker, and a decent speaker setup, and don’t mind purchasing an album almost entirely comprised of filler. Otherwise go witness Bassnectar to get the full spectrum of the experience he creates at his live shows.