U.K Bass is a roughly defined umbrella term that music writers have used to describe a broad swath of British electronic music over the past couple of decades. Hyperdub, the U.K.-based label run by early dubstep proliferator Steve Goodman, has, for a little over half a decade, been my gateway into the complex contortions of U.K. Bass music. Whatever the subgenre — the grime of Terror Danjah, the two-step garage of Darkstar or the dubstep of Goodman's own productions (released under the name Kode9) — Hyperdub's catalogue seems to draw its consistency from Goodman's taste for dark productions with generous servings of low end.
The musician Merissa Campbell, who records as Cooly G, released her debut album, Playin' Me, in the U.K. yesterday via Hyperdub. Like most of the label's releases, it is a dark and completely immersive experience. At just under an hour, Playin' Me traces the pain inherent in love.
One of my favorite cuts on the album, "Good Times," depicts a scene where a shy-looking stranger catches Campbell's eye. What I like most about "Good Times" is the song's ability to express complicated feelings through the contrast of word and sound. The lyrics are sweet and full of butterflies: "You were parked up by the bus stop," Campbell sings. "You and that smile that made me weak / I would like to get to know you / if I could have your number and give you a call. Nothing else about the song makes me think of good times. Its key, the shadowy reverb around her vocals, even the track's rhythmic pings carry with them a feeling of mournful longing. In the song's final thirty seconds, Campbell's vocals fall away, replaced by a heavy bass line that punctuates this bittersweet memory.