Moonbase Commander: Orthodox

Moonbase Commander is welding together urban and bass music again - is it crossover magic?

- Just how orthodox is Moonbase Commander? There’s a bit of a wry wink in the name of the Sydney producer’s latest EP. Moonbase Commander has never made cookie-cutter beats and is hardly the establishment sound. Yet as the bass squelches in beneath the synth melodies so faux-oriental they as well be the soundtrack to Shinobi, the title-track slides back through trap-dance for a solid fist-pound with bro-step. Orthodox is exactly what it is.

It must be a little bit tough, trying to keep the dance bros moving and, at the same time, finding something distinctively individual to say. The good thing about Moonbase Commander is that he will keep you guessing. One moment he’s fist pumping for the folks over at Nest HQ, but the next, well who knows? There are a couple of qualities which make this new fistful of tunes distinctive.

The first is the MCing. It’s a follow-on from the Southpaw EP from almost exactly a year ago. One of its major wins was a collaboration with the fabulous Cakes Da Killa and the very viral Serve It Up. On Orthodox Moonbase has again gone shopping for overseas talent and, this time, returned with Mikey Dollaz, whose contribution to the slow bass-bang of Heavyweights is very nearly the opposite of Cakes. The Chicago MC is gangsta circa 1992: all bitches, gats and pipes and yeah, more bitches, gats and pipes. Generic or not, it’s a solid production and, y’know, Mikey could be reading his rap off a ‘welcome to chi town’ postcard, but, bizarrely, the melding of hip hop and bass music could turn your head, because who else is doing bass-driven gangsta in our wide, sunburnt and boring land?

The single Greyhound has been doing the rounds for quite a while now and is a bit of a sucker-punch because it doesn’t sound like anything else on here. The muscular, chopped MCing rides over the bass and techy beat, which is like some mutant, latter day drum’n’bass. It has a lot in common with the sound of European stars like Noisia; like one of their stronger moments, to be honest.

Teaming up with Ecca Vandal was a savvy choice. Her bombastic, rock-tinged hip hop is a kindred spirit to Moonbase’s in-your-face productions and Oblivion could’ve been a breakout. All the fierceness is there in Ecca’s lyrics, but the menace is kept on a leash: a threatening growl rather than a rabid assault. The beat is exactly the same: pretty standard trap-dance that sets it up, but never knocks it down.

Orthodox tells you exactly where Moonbase is at: still mixing it up. Still trying to pack them in, but also trying things on, snapping styles together and waiting to see if something clicks in a way that makes the whole town light up. It feels like the fuse is lit but the full fireworks show is still come. It also feels like I’m asking for more dance bangerz plz - I’m sooo not! Moonbase Commander will make it happen, on his own terms, just wait.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: Orthodox
Artist: Moonbase Commander
Record Label: (October)