August 2007. I’m in the West Kootenay region of British Colombia, Canada. The Salmo River is barely a stone’s throw from me & a few thousand revellers, without holding me, keep me from falling. The sun, just above the mountains over yonder, suggests it’s early morning. I’m at the Shambhala Music Festival. It’s Sunday & Bassnectar is in full swing. Well, kind of.
Bassnectar is Lorin Ashton. And this is the first of his two sets at the festival. He’s playing at a real slow tempo. Soothing & gentle, it’s music for the mind. My body hurts, my calves are tight, I’ve perhaps been dancing for ten of the last twelve hours. Shambhala is entering its fourth & final day.
I had a copy of Underground Communication before flying from Gatwick to Vancouver. Bassnectar’s 2nd LP was released in 2007. It’s an eclectic electronic record. Compared with the contemporary underground sounds of London, England I’ve been exposed to it isn’t cutting edge. Nothing on the LP sounds innovative. All the sounds are borrowed and unfortunately diluted. But this remains a very good record, just never an exceptional one.
The last four tracks of the record reflect the sounds us revellers were enjoying this Sunday morning in August, ambient in both nature & form. The LP in the main however uses heavy bass (though not quite heavy enough) & hip-hop to provide a party soundtrack. Sadly, a fairly pretentious theme emerges that music can provide a positive force for political change (it can of course, but we don’t need to be told).
Album: Underground Communication
But on this Sunday morning Shambhala & Bassnectar felt like they were changing my world. All I could do was shuffle slowly, lifting my mass from one foot to the other. And there were a thousand or so like me. I was yearning for the drop, an avalanche of deep dirty disgusting bass. I was waiting patiently. The sun was now clear of the mountains & it was perhaps 20C. In a few hours it will be 30C. And now I see the faces all around me, and their smiles. Oh god the smiles. It was all so wonderful & I’ll never forget it. My new Canadian friend shouts in my ear, “This is the soundtrack of our lives” and my moment is complete.
Shambhala was a really good music festival. Which managed to cultivate the more desirable emotions & behaviour. And freedom. Feeling utterly free from the self & the ego. Just for a few days….ahhh. Bliss.
The set finishes. I see Ashton sign a few of his LP’s. I make my way to the Salmo & cool down in the icy mountain water.
It’s Sunday night & I’m in a clearing in a forest of trees. And I’m right at the front with perhaps a few thousand others. This is to be Bassnectar’s party set, except the bass isn’t working! Ha! But spirits are good. “Awesome”, as I have learned to say. But there are too many people for me. I stay long enough to feel the bass flow through my waters and leave to experience the naughtiness of a Canadian festival set in the most beautiful location. The smaller stages delight.
A further thought. I can’t recall which night this occurred. The power cut. The entire site was under a cloak of darkness. Complete darkness. And initially we laughed, but then we feared, and finally the wonderful relief when the power returned. To the power cut which left us in the dark & without sound for perhaps half an hour? To the power cut which allowed us to understand where we were & why. I thank you.
And thanks to Journeyman Vs Code. The DJ’s of Shambhala 2007. Least I think it was them I loved!
Accompanying Track: Bassnectar - Impossible and Overwhelming
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