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A juicy thud.
Pulsating energy waves of molten-hot beats.
A splattery crunch.
These are the textures of Whitebear.
The Australian ambassador of crunchy psychedelic bass music’s latest EP, Liberation, takes what you thought you knew about the psychedelic sound spectrum and throws it into the darkest cave of your imagination. The creature that emerges is stylistically different from the glitchy and ancestral sounds currently flourishing in the psychedelic mid-tempo realm, yet still fundamentally Whitebear.
If you aren’t familiar with Whitebear’s sound, or psychedelic bass music as a whole, be prepared for a journey once you don your headphones or turn up your stereo. Shamanic chants and oscillating masses of congealing sound will soon give way to genre-bending beats and pulses that demand participation from the body. Dark and psychedelic noises interject at every turn, hinting at the greater soundscapes that lie beyond the immediate beat focus. The squishy crunch so unique to Whitebear comes and goes at varying tempos like a needle weaving in and out of the distorted fabric of each song, reminding one of the continuous energy fueling the fire.
Lured in by the otherworldly opening track, “Cizin,” I’m not surprised to be confronted by dark soundscapes in a song named for the Mayan god of earthquakes and the underworld. Though I at first struggled with the slow tempo and chilling sounds coursing through this track, I think it’s the perfect lead-up to the ensuing songs.
“Bardo” quickly delivers me to a mechanical land where rapid beats collide with glowing textures, pulling my body into its grasp. Where movement seemed elusive in the first track, it is now bountiful.
“The Beast Within” takes pause from this gained momentum, though. Rich with psychedelic audio samples and relishing in its textural complexity, the track serves well as the shadowy bridge between two beat-driven tracks.
“Sensory Overload” is a collaboration track with swamp-glitch specialist Tribone, and the union of sounds seems to me a freestanding exploration of the past, present and future of dark electronica. Primal sounds combine with classic psy elements to create something deliciously new yet weirdly familiar. This may be the standout track of the EP for me, but I hate to pick favorites…
Marking the end of the Liberation journey, “Recalibrated (VIP Mix)” reveals where I believe the psychedelic music spectrum is moving. With rapid beats below, primal tech sounds battle overhead for control over the domain of the living, constantly adapting to their environments and exchanging blows to create a sonic experience that cannot be cornered into any single genre.
Progressing from fairly minimalistic psy into increasingly complex realities—many pocked by eerie audio samples in the spirit of psychedelic electronica—Liberation’s cumulative makeup demands adaption on behalf of any would-be dancer who dares venture into the tide of its sound. With kaleidoscoping sonic artifacts and rippling energy layers structured around a fusion of organic and mechanical sounds, this kind of music transcends any single purpose—it is an experience; a journey through senses, emotions and mental states. Through the abysmal darkness and into the blinding light, one is reminded that no experience is perfect, and that we constantly dance between extremes in the pursuit of a balance so tenuous it may not exist at all.
Liberation serves as another brave expedition into the mystery of this dualistic reality, where comfort is tested and ritual is defied. With textures that raise hairs and layered tempo buildups that push boundaries, Whitebear’s latest sounds just might be the dive into the darkness your mind has secretly been craving to escape the maw of ecstatic bass music that seems to flow so steadily these days.