Rising Bass Spotlight: Philadelphia-based JamL looks to ‘Level Up’ with heavily experimental 4-track debut [EP review]
Here at Conscious Electronic, we love all things bass — breakbeat, downtempo, left-field, experimental, dubstep in all its forms, you name it. As the underground bass movement has begun its full ascendancy in the US, we’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of up-and-coming bass artists the country over. As such, CE’s Rising Bass Spotlight seeks to shine a light onto the rising producers who’re honing their craft, galvanizing their movements, and attuning eyes, ears, heads, and bodies into all things low end.
Who is JamL? On the one hand, it’s an acronym that stands for “Just another music Lover.” On the other, the man behind the moniker is Billy Hambridge, who has been playing the nameless underground warehouses of a bass music hotspot on the east coast.
“I’m just a dude from the suburbs of Philadelphia,” Hambridge says. “Who I am never really mattered for the JamL project. The reason I chose that name is because that’s all I am. That’s all any of us are: Just another music lover.”
We first spotted the experimental bass music producer upon premiering one of his tracks with Texas-based producer Yung Sriracha earlier this year. Now, with a certain rare kind of humility, JamL has stepped out on his own in a very big way—his very first EP release. It’s a monumental step for any artist and JamL rises to the occasion on Level Up, which is a fitting and thoughtful title for one’s first cohesive project. Thoughtful and differential, to be clear.
JamL is just as forthcoming with his inspiration as he is with his music: “I started making music simply to make music, but it very rapidly became an outlet for everything negative I’ve felt in my life,” he says.”Drowning feelings of self-doubt and self-hate seem to fade away. When I’m in the studio everything in life seems harmonious.”
The four-track project begins with slow-burning bass anthem, “Do Things” featuring Fetto. The opening track is chocked full of liquidy synths, halftime measures over swifter, more complex broken beat percussion, and grinding bass lines, and Fetto’s chopped vocals, all of which heavily subside into a gooey, slow-moving caravan of forward-thinking bass sounds.
Next up comes the blaring alarms of “Wow,” which is juxtaposed with natural sounds of a trickling waterfall sample. It sounds almost as if one is taking a refreshing outdoor hike as the sirens of The Purge have come to warn you that The Hunger Games are about to commence. The track quickly hits listeners with a wall of bass, invoking a desire to dance before evolving into a slow and grimy concoction of guttural, indisposed bass sounds. All of this is enveloped in an atmosphere of reverb and delay. As the first single on the EP, the song speaks for itself.
Next up is “Terratoma,” the second single released from the EP, which signals a move into ancient feudal China. Eastern chimes, oriental signatures, and complex beat work mark the track. Before long, listeners are immersed in a spacey synths warpath that flips back and forth between calming nostalgia on the high ends undergirded by heavy left-field bass lines.
As the more hip-hop forward track on the EP, “Drip Drop” calls on the vocals of Fetto once again. Experimental bass is pushed to the limits on this selection with its expert tempo work, slippery samples, dripping tones, and seismic drops. The fluid and organic meets the robotic and electronic on “Drip Drop,” and Fetto’s decisive vocals lead the way through the contrasting waters.
“Level Up is a culmination of everything I’ve learned in my two years writing and producing music. Countless hours spent in the rabbit hole of Ableton,” JamL says of the EP. “Hours filled with epiphanies, realizations, those beautiful ‘ah-ha’ moments, and more frustration than I care to admit. Honestly, somehow I managed to capture everything I love about bass music in these tracks.”
All in all, Level Up proves JamL is serious about taking serious steps in his young musical career. This is a project that’s embedded with incredible honesty, intuitive production, and an effortless, yet meticulously crafted display of experimental bass sounds. This is one Rising Bass Arist that should be on everyone’s docket of up-and-comers.