Iceman Ja, better known for his classic works during the reign of old school Electro Funk and Miami Bass as Mega Jon Bass, returns unto the scene once again after a lengthy hiatus to deliver the heat, refined and evolved, and with no lack of Hip Hop and Electro flavors! With "The Transformer", Iceman Ja introduces 9 brand new songs to mark the end of a nearly 20 year break from releasing tunes, showing that the power behind the Bass music that made him a worldwide recognized name is anything but slowing down. If anything, all this time he has been mastering his craft to a further degree, and infusing his signature style with a modern approach that leaves his songs warm, crisp, and sweltering with Bass, Boom and Bottom.
Starting off with "Electro Bass Funk", the master of disaster begins the sonic assault with classic 808's as Detroit-inspired vocals let you know what kind of funk this is. The raps take over as the rhythms get rolling, introducing old school synth stabs, and bass tones that will take you back in time to when it all began, while hinting that the future once imagined, is now here!
Continuing on, "Excessive Bass" gets a little creepy while keeping your subs pumping as the haunting vocals and mysterious melodic arrangements create an aura of playful suspense. Nothing too serious here folks, just some seriously wicked beats for you to get your groove on to. Think Newcleus and Maggotron meet Mega Jon Bass for a session of throwing down, and you'll get the picture.
"Virus In The Machine" takes over your systems and drops a menacing tune that reminds me a bit of old school Aux 88, back when they still had a bit of that Miami flavor. The synths here are spellbinding, and the sequences are absolutely on point...a higher intelligence at works folks, beware! If A.I. took over the internet to broadcast its version of Electro Funk to the masses, this would probably be the tune.
Now that Iceman Ja has your attention, it's time for the real party to begin. "Bass Machine" gets the bodies moving as the classic vocoders get going along with the bizarre pads and ferocious bassline that weaves together with the gleaming sequencing that seems to hit every frequency seamlessly. Top tune!
Next up, "Mega Jon's Bass Booming" pays homage to the artist's roots with this enchanting song that brings in old school elements of Miami Bass music, with spaced out synthesizer arrangements that strike just the right chords. While this is club music at its very best, there is a certain aura throughout that conveys a deeper emotive drive to the artist's music that presents this tune with soulfulness and funk to spare!
"The Transformer" comes next with punishing 808's, frantic stabs, alluring pads, along with mad scratches thanks to counterpart DJ Needlz, as raps full of Michigan attitude take over the frequencies! This tune is a jam to be played loud, shaking floors from coast to coast to the bottom dropping bass of Iceman Ja. Wicked stuff!
The following song is a mesmerizing reworking of the previous, featuring infamous German artist E-Rocker, along with Wilson Oliver and Heliobranco, who deliver with the "World Mix" of The Transformer, a progressive version with complex atmospheres, gleaming sequences, and a depth and character that makes this song so unique, that playing it along with the original in a set would be not only adequate, but a requirement to keep the people grooving!
As we continue towards the end of the record, we should take a moment to talk about what in my opinion may be the best tune on this record, the "W.O. & E.R. Remix" of Excessive Bass by Wilson Oliver and E-Rocker. This incredible remix is glistening with emotive programming and uncanny arrangements, that as with many of the previous songs we've heard, have a careful balance between harsh and audacious, and subtle, classy and soulful. Not an easy task!
Lastly, the album closes with "Needlz On The Records", a relentless display of DJ Needlz's cutting and scratching skills to the bounce of Iceman Ja, who delivers a fierce old school jam inspired by the likes of Afro-Rican.
Highly recommended album, and a great comeback for one of the cultivators of the old school Bass scene, returning here with a strong and refined sound that shows that as an artist, not only is he strongly rooted in his foundation, but that he also has a keen sense for the evolution of the different styles of Hip Hop and Electro into the contemporary sound we find today.
Every track on this album is truly a masterpiece of Electro Bass music, produced with a rather unique approach that balances melancholic, often suspenseful atmospheres, with classy, rhythmic grooves that are as much a throwback to yesteryear, as they are signs of where the music is heading as time goes on. Check out the album below.