Ravenscoon harnesses the beauty in chaos on highly-anticipated immersive bass project, ‘Mind’ [EP Review]
For Paul Conversano, who flies around under his Ravenscoon moniker, beautiful chaos isn’t just an approach to music… it’s a way of life. As a product of the Bassnectar scene, Ravenscoon has touted the megaproducer’s “noise versus beauty” approach like a boy scout earning his patches over the past ten years. The only difference is that rather than touseling between the ultra-heavy and the beautifully melodic, as is often the case with Bassnectar’s musical catalogue lately, Conversano searches for the beauty in the chaos.
It’s a theme that has marked Ravenscoon’s style since the early days of releasing his debut track, “Accelerated Mortality,” which CE featured back in 2018 as part of our Rising Bass Spotlight series. With Ravenscoon’s newest five-track EP, MIND, one must fully embrace Conversano’s controlled chaos in order to truly excavate these songs’ captivating beauty. This is a piece of work that everyone will find themselves listening to over and over, constantly searching for new layers of meaning. These are frequencies that are hidden far below the surface, buried beneath filthy layers of sediment, like a diamond in the ruff. It’s a true metaphor for life.
[T]he overall project, is the story of me. The story of you. The story of us,” says Ravenscoon, speaking to the project’s universal meaning.
“It is a symbol of the power of one’s mind & what it truly means to be ‘in control,’ a nod to my Atlanta roots, how the lines between dreams and reality are less concrete than they seem, the silence + pain we sit through when we fail to reach out for help from others, and what it truly means to be alive.” – Ravenscoon
Always one to include his tight-knit fan community in his creative process, Ravenscoon has released every track off the album in some format or another. Whether it was during a recent Riverbeats live stream, through private links strewn about his Facebook fan group, or on a local radio show in his San Fransisco stomping grounds, where he debuted “Through The Silence” for the first time. Ravenscoon has consistently given fans the unmastered, the unreleased, the live, and the raw and uncut.
MIND contained six tracks originally, but one was scrapped after a loss incident with TSA at a Florida airport. The track was actually the centerpiece of the project, but Conversano decided he couldn’t give the raw form the attention it deserved. So he refocused the EP around the EP’s closing track, “MIND,” with Boston producer Masohn on co-pilot and Born I on verses.
Doubling as the EP’s title track, this 6-minute cut dips into saucy, low-tempo territory, which makes “MIND” the perfect ease-down from an otherwise all-out assaultive EP. The track begins with twinkling, spacey synths and euphoric melodies, all slowly building over a powerful lyrical contribution from Born I. His rap verses are both poetic and political, along with being deeply introspective and honest. If that weren’t enough to move listeners into a lucid state, the song’s climactic point is where the paralyzing sub-bass moves the body in slow-moving submission. At this point, when you are molasses, Ravenscoon’s calling card does its work — it’s his signature gritty bassline that feels at once expansive and immersive, to be sure.
Kicking off the EP is a heavy Feelmonger joint, “Control,” which is aptly named if not for the fact that it feels like mind control. From the repetition of the word “Control” to the loss thereof in how the record makes you feel like you’ll pop off at any point, listeners will hear something new every time. There’s just so much to uncover between the song’s hopeful toplines, filthy dub-heavy drops, whompy breaks, and gritty, immersive basslines. Funny, albeit uncoincidental, how the EP’s first and last titles spell out “MIND” and “Control.”
Next up is “Humunculous,” which translates to “very tiny human” or “humanoid creature.” The track enlists Michigan bass experimentalist Zuni, which is no doubt where the song gets its glitchy, free-form midtempo flavor. This track is also a nod to Ravenscoon’s Atlanta roots with the use of hip-hop samples, heavy 808s, and traces of early-90s boom bap. There is also heavy DnB influences that make the track feel like a highly unpredictable choose-your-own-adventure. It’s as if Detox Unit and EPROM got together on Kursa and Seppa‘s Slug Wife and we’re all along for the ride.
“Dreaming,” the EP’s interlude track, sees beautiful arps floating over powerful ocean waves of deep, undulating bass. The juxtaposition allows the music to completely wash over the senses while curling into the soul. It’s a time to take a step back from the EP’s intensity and take a few deep breaths. Tack on a few Alan Watts samples and this track actually becomes the perfect meditative experience.
The more one peals back the layers of MIND, the more one learns about one’s self and about Paul. You can’t walk away from the project without gaining a sense for just how smart and complex this guy is. This is conscious bass music, through and through, or what we at CE like to call “conscious bass music.” That is, music which is intelligent, mind-altering, meditative, amorphous, and makes you think. At times dark and heavy, at others soft and sanguine, but one thing is certain: you can’t move into the light without moving through the darkness.
One also gains a sense that Ravenscoon is truly coming into his own style. Equipped with immersive, reverberating bass lines, heavy 808 influences, hopeful high ends, and tons of arps, Ravenscoon creates an expanding universe of sound that takes hold and doesn’t let go. In so doing, he’s managed to concoct a hypnotic and intelligent masterpiece that feels like the haunting of angels in some moments, with a heavyweight underground freak party around the corner. You just have to attune yourself to find the beauty in chaos.