Album Review: Debasser – The Invitations Are Real, The Party Is Not – Album Review/Exclusive Interview/Guest Mix

The Breakdown

..From moments of 'hands in the air' euphoric bliss, to 'heads down' solid bass groovers, Debasser has got it covered...

Drawing on inspiration and experience from a wide range of scenes including UK Bass, Breaks, Jungle, Electro, Garage, and more, Debasser follows up singles ‘Separation Anxiety’ and ‘Bad Behaviour’ with his second long-player ‘The Invitations are Real, The Party is Not’ via his WIDE Records label. Active throughout the early 000’s on labels such as NovaMute, Input Output, and Seed, as well as playing at Andrew Weatherall’s Haywire parties, Debasser has been pushing machine-funk and bass focused UK music for close to two decades, founding WIDE Records in 2006.

Lead track ‘Bad Behaviour’ harks back to the fertile ground of early Jungle & Drum & Bass, while ‘Separation Anxiety’ brings ravey stabs and sharp breakbeats to the table. ‘Funny Noises’ leans on electro stylings around bombastic 303 work, and ‘Pork Scratchings’ sees a dose of the absurd with entertaining vocals atop raw, mechanical instrumentals.

‘One Sock Saturday’ gets gritty with a robust 4/4 pattern over bleeps and warped bass, leading into the bright and airy ‘Parodise Lost’ before ‘Humpty’ heads back into heavy territory with wobbling bass and vocal cuts. Offering some calm amidst the storm, ‘Through The Woods’ marries swirling ambience with clicky percussion and fluttering synths, before ‘A Little Rough’ ups the tempo once more, running delayed piano stabs over rough low end and breakneck drums to close out the album.

Check out the intro track to the album:


Debasser was kind enough to sit down with Backseatmafia and answer a few questions on his Career/Label/New Album and more…….

How did you initially get into producing.

I started pretty young. My Dad bought me a little sampler keyboard called a Yamaha VSS-30 when I was about 9, and I loved it. Had these crazy FM and AM effects you could add, and over sampling and a bunch of other Lo-Fi bits I could mess around with for hours.  Still have it somewhere, although half the keys have now fallen off – plus the demo tune was pretty weak.  After that I started playing with OctaMED on the Amiga and that’s when I really started to see the potential of writing electronic music and it basically grew from there.  But I guess the real trigger for all of this was hearing Axel F for the first time. What a tune – think I did a remix of it once, need to dig that out.

You started WIDE Records in 2006, what was the main drive to start a label.

I’m not sure I can really take that much credit for the initial days of the label.  It was set up largely off the back of the club nights we were doing as WIDE in London and around the UK. My brother, DJ Cutlass Supreme, was the real passion and driver behind that at the beginning. We had a load of DJs, musicians and producers playing at our nights such as Disco D, DJ Godfather, Ectomorph, DJ Nasty and Paul Blackford so it seemed the logical thing to set up a label and just put stuff out ourselves.  

The album has a wide range of influences including UK Bass, Breaks, Jungle and Electro, what drew you more towards producing this side of electronic music.

It’s just great fun writing in a lot of different ways and I don’t really like being too pigeon holed – good to keep people guessing. That said, there’s obviously a definite trend towards bass in practically everything I do. I don’t think it’s a bad thing being varied but it did make submitting this album a little complicated as wasn’t really sure which “genre” the whole thing would fit into, so I hope it doesn’t end up in a random box somewhere.

Who have been your biggest influences and inspirations in your work.

When I was about 15 my brother brought home a copy of Papua New Guinea and played me the Andrew Weather remix, and that basically changed everything.  Followed a few years later when I heard DJ Rap playing at Glastonbury.  The combination of those two events are the foundation of where I am now.  

There seems to be a recent change in the dance scene with many producers going back to a more retro classic style, especially in the UK bass and Breaks scene. Why do you think that is.

I think a load of this stuff just goes in cycles.  It’s no bad thing, and means people like me can just dust off the old techniques and attempt to sound fresh again. To be honest, I’ve never been a HUGE fan of the uber clean over produced sound that’s been gaining popularity over the past few years.  I have a lot of respect for the producers that can get the cleanliness they achieve, but given my music will ideally be listened to by a bunch of half cut sweaty ravers, getting the best compression settings possible seems a bit over kill. So going back to some more crude….I mean retro sounds and styles works well for me.

Do you have a certain production process or does it vary from project to project.

Recently I’ve started to get a bit more proper hands on hardware.  Previously I did almost everything in Ableton, which is still the centre of my studio. But I’m enjoy having a bunch of knobs and sliders to play with. Makes the whole process so much more expressive and you feel physically more part of the whole creative process. I’ve been really enjoying watching some of the Anthony Rother videos he’s been putting up during lockdown. Seeing how he interacts with the equipment in his studio while he’s building tunes is awesome, I want to work more like that – just need to get my studio to the same standards as him!So no I don’t really have a specific process or approach to writing music.  I tend to just see what happens. I don’t mind starting with a blank canvas, getting an initial idea down is one of the most fun bits.  Finishing a track – well that’s the real skill.

On the album we have some great contrasts from the lo-fi emotive ‘Through The Woods’ to the drum and bass stomper ‘A Little Rough’, was it difficult to select which tracks would appear on the final release and in which order they would appear.

When I started thinking about putting out another album I had about 20 or so tracks on the go, and that was great because I could be pretty brutal and just kill off any that started to bore me.   So the process of getting to these final tracks wasn’t too hard but getting an order to them so there was a bit of a “journey” was trickier.   Then naming the bloody things, that’s always interesting. The original name for ‘Through The Woods’ was actually ‘We All Fucked’ (typo intended, can’t remember why!) but then I thought I’d make it a bit more family friendly. I’m really pleased with how it’s all ended up and fits together, I think it’s a great collection of tracks.

What would you say is your personal favourite on the album and why.

It’s between Bad Behaviour and Parodies Lost. I can’t listen to Bad Behaviour without getting a grin on my face and I really hope that I get to play it out to a crowd sometime soon. It feels like the long over due follow up to Dark Smile.  As for Parodies Lost, I think it’s a really beautifully crafted bit of electro – I’m really proud of how that one turned out (even if Cutlass Supreme suggested it would have sounded fitting in Robocop 3 – I’m not sure if that was a complement or not, knowing him it isn’t)

Whats next for Debasser.

I’ve only just finished getting the last bits for this album sorted, but I think it’s now all done.  So I’m going to be getting back into the studio to create some new tunes very very soon. Have a few other little projects on the go as well.  Tempted to try and get Tony Bonus out of retirement and see if we can make some more videos together, but we’ll see. Now I think about it, I guess my next project is to stick the keys back onto my old VSS-30….

Debasser ‘The Invitations Are Real, The Party Is Not’ lands on WIDE Recordings on 4th June.

Verdict: What can I say, I’m a sucker for Bass, Bleeps and Beats (breaks in particular). A great collection of tracks that span key genres that grew from the 90s UK dance scene. Debasser Brings the essence of the classic ‘back in the Day’ flavour while planting his feet firmly in the club sound of now. From moments of ‘hands in the air’ euphoric bliss, to ‘heads down’ solid bass groovers, Debasser has got it covered


1. Bad Behaviour
2. Separation Anxiety
3. Funny Noises
4. Pork Scratchings
5. One Sock Saturday
6. Parodise Lost
7. Humpty
8. Through The Woods
9. A Little Rough


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