Going deep with subset

Five-piece act to play the Dome this Saturday.

Five-piece act to play the Dome this Saturday.

A new sound has bubbled out of drummer Lincoln Wright’s Sweet Leith Studio and on Saturday Paulus McKinnon (left), Matt Tong, Ryan Raggett, Lincoln Wright and Charles Barrie of Subset BC unleash that sound at the Dome. Picture supplied

In Sweet Leith Studio, next to the Bean Genie espresso bar, something new is brewing. Made up of three bass guitarists, a keyboard player and a drummer, five-piece act Subset BC evolved from a bass player’s creativity group, the Bass Club.

Although Subset BC see themselves not as a bass band but a band that happens to have three bass guitars, the line up is not a common arrangement, says Bean Genie barista and drummer Lincoln Wright.

“The two questions we most often get asked is ‘how does it work?’ and ‘does it work?’ It isn’t drum and bass. We’re not playing the same notes. There’s all sorts of stuff in our sound and we give space to everyone to do their thing.”

The ethos is ‘less is more’, he says.

“Most of the time we’re holding down grooves. It’s quite moody and can be loungy at times. We also have compositions that are quite dancey.

“We’re quite the rhythm band.”

Made up of Wright (Missing Link), Ryan Raggett (The Broken Stone), Paulus McKinnon (Bantam), Matt Tong (The Residents) and Wellington band Bella Cajon’s bass player Charles Barrie, Subset BC bubbled out of regular jam sessions that happened to involve bass guitars.

“Charles approached me about starting up an evening where basses can jam,” says Wright.

“Ryan and Paulus showed up so we became a unit of regulars. Matt came for a jam one time so we asked if he would like to come along too.”

The three bass players and their drummer conceived the Bass Club.

Along with local and visiting bass players, the musicians got together weekly to explore dynamics, tones, effects and ways of playing together. They shared bass techniques and used exercises to stimulate their creativity. As styles and sounds developed, the musicians decided to harness the music into something more performance ready.

A pause was placed on the regular open Bass Club, Matt Tong and his keyboard were invited to join the three bass fold, and Subset BC was born.

A largely instrumental and improvised affair, Subset BC draws from musical influences that include funk, breaks, desert-sludge, post-rock, shoe-gaze, house and drum and bass.

Barrie describes the band’s sound as “dark-groove cinematic bass”.

“Three bass players is a bit of a novelty, but there’s a sound that we like,” he says.

“Collectively we have a wide range of experience, across different genres and we have a visual way of writing songs.”

In fact, visuals bring another dimension to Subset BC.

“We have jammed with a live visual artist who put together visuals on the spot. He does this for a jazz band,” says Wright.

The unique sound, the visuals — Subset BC can’t be pigeonholed, he says.

“We don’t belong to a genre. We are not going for anything — it’s what we do. We can’t be anything because there’s nothing like us.

“We’re all excited by it,” says Wright.

  • Subset BC with DJ’s Missing Link and Subsekretary, Dome Bar, Saturday, 8.30pm. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 8pm.

In Sweet Leith Studio, next to the Bean Genie espresso bar, something new is brewing. Made up of three bass guitarists, a keyboard player and a drummer, five-piece act Subset BC evolved from a bass player’s creativity group, the Bass Club.

Although Subset BC see themselves not as a bass band but a band that happens to have three bass guitars, the line up is not a common arrangement, says Bean Genie barista and drummer Lincoln Wright.

“The two questions we most often get asked is ‘how does it work?’ and ‘does it work?’ It isn’t drum and bass. We’re not playing the same notes. There’s all sorts of stuff in our sound and we give space to everyone to do their thing.”

The ethos is ‘less is more’, he says.

“Most of the time we’re holding down grooves. It’s quite moody and can be loungy at times. We also have compositions that are quite dancey.

“We’re quite the rhythm band.”

Made up of Wright (Missing Link), Ryan Raggett (The Broken Stone), Paulus McKinnon (Bantam), Matt Tong (The Residents) and Wellington band Bella Cajon’s bass player Charles Barrie, Subset BC bubbled out of regular jam sessions that happened to involve bass guitars.

“Charles approached me about starting up an evening where basses can jam,” says Wright.

“Ryan and Paulus showed up so we became a unit of regulars. Matt came for a jam one time so we asked if he would like to come along too.”

The three bass players and their drummer conceived the Bass Club.

Along with local and visiting bass players, the musicians got together weekly to explore dynamics, tones, effects and ways of playing together. They shared bass techniques and used exercises to stimulate their creativity. As styles and sounds developed, the musicians decided to harness the music into something more performance ready.

A pause was placed on the regular open Bass Club, Matt Tong and his keyboard were invited to join the three bass fold, and Subset BC was born.

A largely instrumental and improvised affair, Subset BC draws from musical influences that include funk, breaks, desert-sludge, post-rock, shoe-gaze, house and drum and bass.

Barrie describes the band’s sound as “dark-groove cinematic bass”.

“Three bass players is a bit of a novelty, but there’s a sound that we like,” he says.

“Collectively we have a wide range of experience, across different genres and we have a visual way of writing songs.”

In fact, visuals bring another dimension to Subset BC.

“We have jammed with a live visual artist who put together visuals on the spot. He does this for a jazz band,” says Wright.

The unique sound, the visuals — Subset BC can’t be pigeonholed, he says.

“We don’t belong to a genre. We are not going for anything — it’s what we do. We can’t be anything because there’s nothing like us.

“We’re all excited by it,” says Wright.

  • Subset BC with DJ’s Missing Link and Subsekretary, Dome Bar, Saturday, 8.30pm. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 8pm.
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