Stream Kolam from Bass Sekolah’s Dusun Sessions

The Dusun sessions drip with the subtle suggestion of their origin. Reverb-laden synthesisers, location-appropriate samples and rhythm sections that bubble more than beat all draw associations with the Malaysian jungle from which they were born. The album was the result of various recording sessions instigated by Bass Sekolah’s Cee, roping in his friends as they passed through his home during their tours. “A few years back I started helping a few of my musician and DJ friends and started booking little exciting Asia tours. A stop over on the Dusun became the norm since my wife, our son and I moved here full time about two and half years ago. Some music friends agreed to only close the deal after we made sure the off days could include a good time here with us, close to the jungle. Making music together was inevitable.” The likes of Phon.o, Deadelus, Perera Elsewhere and Housemeister all turned to music in what was supposed to be moments of rest during tours, inspired by the inspirational vista from their windowless perch high above the jungle canopy. Kolam featuring Perera Elsewhere was the first track to be conceived in the jungle with Cee setting up a studio “close to one of the Dusun swimming pools (that’s kolam in Bahasa Malaysia).” Perera Elsewhere remembers how he “set up a nice condenser mic in the hut and recorded vocals with the windows open.” Kolam is a beatific track, drawing on simple beats and charming melodies, often playing on a dichotomy between the serene and the dissonant. You can hear the sounds of the jungle creeping in through that open window, combining with the austere electronics of an urban environment in a charming contrast.

The natural environment played a unanimous role in the music for all the artists involved. While most sampled it in tracks like Kolam and the Deadelus collaborative Of Rocks and trees, the setting was the inspiration that was behind the success of all the tracks involced. “I remember that atmosphere at the Dusun was very special. On one side it’s super peaceful and mellow and I got super relaxed and on the other side there is this energy you get from the natural surroundings like the high energy noise of the cicadas and the daily thunders with their intense rain showers.” Phon.o recalls his impressions while working in the jungle on the RQM and Bass Sekolah collaborative Don’t fade away. That song sets the tone magnanimously for much of the album as slow moving bass-lines are punctuated by the syncopated kicks, swathed in layers of plucked strings and reverberating staccato synths, all smoothed over with Darren’s (Bass Sekolah) vocals blanketing the arrangement with a languishing hue. The surrounding location is reflected everywhere in the music from the chiming strings to RQM’s words, “This love is a jungle, alive with a million and one twisted Technicolor dreams.” Don’t fade away again highlights again the dichotomy witnessed on Kolam, as you experience these busy arrangements that tends to saunter along, and one can’t help drawing associations with bubbling brooks. This is where the major appeal of the Dusun sessions lies, their ability to put the organic nature of their inspiration into an electronic language any discerning electronic music fan could understand. And in the way Cee describes it, again marks the significant influence of the recording milieu. “It’s never quiet on the Dusun, yet it’s calm. The jungle never sleeps. Writing music here is like a dialogue with nature, with yourself.”

At times the writing takes the form of fully-fledged songs, with verse chorus arrangements while at other times they come together as dance-inspired tracks, but the natural element in the sessions is concurrent throughout the compilation. Bass Sekolah highlights this fact by presenting the Dusun sessions as a continuous mix. “The jungle never sleeps and we wanted to share a seamless, smooth, continuous mix with people, like a story.” More than anything, it’s the image of that Malaysian jungle that is so evocative on the album and can be seen as a thread running through all the songs. You really do get a sense of location within the Dusun sessions. Phon.o is under impression that “mother nature watermarked all of the recordings” and it’s something any invested listener will no doubt pick up on in the recording. Any listener in fact since the Dusun sessions will be distributed free of charge thanks to the Goethe Institut. “I felt honoured working on music with these people and simply wanted to share the outcome in the true sense of the word, which is why we’re giving this music away for free.” – Cee