By Olivia Perry (Host of House of Pain Monday 2:00-3:30pm)
Summer 2012 was the beginning of ‘true freedom,’ or at least that’s what it felt like at the time. Up until then I’d felt pretty legit as a first year UVic student who was living the campus dorm life, I wasn’t upset waving high school goodbye. However, it was moving into my first house, along with five cool cats that the real shenanigans began. This milestone also happened to coincide with my belated introduction to gritty grimy dub and bass music. It was a good year for everything, but in addition to the huge influx of new music from roommates, I had a musical breakthrough of my own; for this, one particular album will always bring me back.
I was introduced to The Arcane Terrain by my childhood friend Sylvain who can also be credited as the Gandalf of my journey into underground electronic music. The Arcane Terrain was the fifth release from Swedish born producer Martin Stääf, better known as Liquid Stranger, who created the alias as a single outlet for his many experimental musical endeavours. The variety of genres at work in The Arcane Terrain grabbed me from the get go and I still revere it as a brilliantly engineered amalgamation of cultural elements; intergalactic noise, and rap bad-assery.
The album listens as a 13-track saga with each song operating at various levels of intensity and electronic input. From six minutes of atmospheric space babel to reggae hip-hop vibes to full on electronic crunk–dub negotiated madness. As a newbie to the genre, “Bombaclaad Star” blew my mind with its addictive reggae dub baseline and still easily stands as the most listened to song on the album. No drive was complete without blasting this track for all my borrowed VW was worth.
As much as this album opened my eyes to electronic bass music, it also showed me how versatile hip-hop can be. In addition to KRS One and the unidentified vocalist in “Bombaclaad Star,” the album includes two tracks co-produced by Heavyweight Dub Champions and features numerous contributions from MC Zulu, Killah Priest, Razza, and Stero-Lion to name a few. Since revisiting the album for this piece, “Rise” has fast become my new favourite track, largely due to some dark and crispy vocals from A.P.O.S.T.L.E.
I credit my body’s success in surviving the questionable lifestyle choices that accompanied second year (not to mention the ones since) to getting down with this album on the regular. I saw Liquid Stranger in two different provinces within the same two weeks that summer and although the original six from that house are more dispersed these days, I still throw down the moves to this album when no one’s looking and Liquid Stranger continues to make the interstellar stellar.