Bomb the Bass

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Bomb the Bass
Timsimenon zurich.jpg
Tim Simenon, Zürich '08
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Electronica, hip hop, downtempo, trip hop
Years active 1987–present
Labels !K7, Phantom, Electric Tones, Stoned Heights
Associated acts Neneh Cherry, Depeche Mode, Justin Warfield, Paul Conboy, Jah Wobble, Sinéad O'Connor, Atticus Ross, Consolidated, A.P.E., Lali Puna, Jack Dangers
Website Official website

Bomb the Bass is an electronic dance music one-man band consisting of English musician and producer Tim Simenon.[1]

As a name, Bomb the Bass came from Simenon's approach to collaging and mixing sounds whilst DJing in the mid- to late 1980s; he says "samples were either scratched in live or sampled and looped on top of the rhythm section. So the concept was one of bombing the bass line with different ideas, with a collage of sounds. Bombing was a graffiti term for writing, like people would 'bomb' trains or whatever."[2]


Pushing the needle: The accelerated success of Beat Dis[edit]

Released in 1987, the band's debut single was "Beat Dis", with composition credited to Emilio Pasquel / Captain Black / DJ Kid 33. It reached number two on the UK charts.[citation needed]

The recording of "Beat Dis", which cost a reputed £500 - funded by Simenon himself with money coming from DJ sets at London club, The Wag, and an odd-job stacking shelves in a supermarket - was one of the first hit singles to introduce the mainstream to sampling culture (along with releases by M/A/R/R/S, S'Express and the genre-defining Coldcut remix of Eric B & Rakim's "Paid in Full").[citation needed]

Whilst the bass line and drum tracks were written by Simenon, the rest of the track was compiled from samples. Having already taken a part-time sound course at The School of Audio Engineering in Holloway, Simenon was able to build "Beat Dis" himself - assisted in the process by producer Pascal Gabriel, who would go on to experience his own success as co producer of S Express and a wide variety of other artists.[2]

According to the BBC, which featured "Beat Dis" on their clip-based TOTP2 show, the track contains an alleged 72 samples, including lifts from hip hop like Public Enemy, funk (including The Jimmy Castor Bunch), and Ennio Morricone. Also featured were dialogue clips from the television shows Dragnet, and Thunderbirds. Talking to Sound On Sound magazine many years later, Simenon said of the tracks construction, "I suppose I was tuned in to what was current at the time and was able to pick and choose what I wanted with some knowledge of how it should be applied."[2]

Jolted into action by the success of "Beat Dis", Bomb the Bass moved from singles success to album act, with debut LP, Into the Dragon - the name of which aligned with hip-hop culture's growing fondness for 1970s kung-fu movies. Made up of ten tracks, the collection expanded further the band's fascination with hip-hop breakbeats, rap, and that musical sub-culture's creative mashing of multi-media pop culture references.

The second single, "Megablast", took its bassline from the theme music to the John Carpenter film Assault on Precinct 13, and was also used in the Bitmap Brothers computer game Xenon 2 Megablast. Other early hits included "Don't Make Me Wait" (as a double-A side release with Megablast), and a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition I Say a Little Prayer.

Proving much in demand, Simenon was drafted in to help produce a radical remake of "Looking Good Diving with the Wild Bunch" featuring Neneh Cherry, the B-side of "Looking Good Diving", a 1986 song performed by the duo Morgan-McVey. The song was reworked into Neneh Cherry's 1988 single "Buffalo Stance" which reached number three on the UK singles chart and number one on the US dance chart. In the song, Cherry pays homage to Simenon during the song's breaks ("Yeah, Timmy! Tell it like it is!" and "Bomb the Bass, rock this place!"). He also produced the follow-up single, "Manchild", and undertook 12" remix duties.

Into Unknown Territory[edit]

In 1991 "Love So True" with vocals from Loretta Heywood was the first single of new Bomb the Bass material. It suffered under hastily imposed (and unofficial) censorship broadcast regulations, as the outbreak of the First Gulf War prompted UK broadcasters, especially the main national music station BBC Radio 1, to blacklist a variety of songs and acts deemed potentially controversial due to their content or titles. The band name Bomb the Bass was considered to fall into this category, along with that of Massive Attack.[3] Copies of the "Love So True" single were re-issued credited to Tim Simenon instead, but the resulting confusion may have impeded the single's chart chances.

With the Bomb the Bass moniker restored, and an album ready to go, band activity once again ground to a halt, when the collection, now titled Unknown Territory, was delayed when Pink Floyd refused to allow a section of "Money" to be sampled on one of the album's tracks.

With the contentious Pink Floyd sample removed, the album campaign revved up once again. Second single "Winter in July" fared much better, subsequently becoming a summer-fuelled UK Top 10 hit. The track, co-written with Guy Sigsworth and vocalist Loretta Heywood featured several prominent samples from the Japan track "Ghosts" (as featured on the band's final studio album, Tin Drum). This act of inclusion-by-sampling saw Simenon following the hip hop ethos of paying homage to heroes on record. By referencing the David Sylvian-led band's influential textual and ambient work many years before, Simenon was giving notice of his intention to help push hip hop-oriented dance music in the direction that would become trip hop.

Once again pioneering new sounds in the public arena, and following the success of "Winter in July", Unknown Territory would be the band's most well received release to date. Reviewing the album at the time, music writer and author Simon Reynolds attempted to outline a new genre in the making, suggesting that, by moving beyond mere dance tracks into fully cohesive albums, the band were venturing into progressive dance.[4] However, the term did not stick.

As usual on the album, a great deal of Simenon's hip hop fascination would shine through (most notably, the production work of The Bomb Squad with Public Enemy) via the use of multi-media samples, with the album containing dialogue or soundtrack clips from Rollerball, Blade Runner, David Cronenberg's Videodrome, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Marvel comics' Fantastic Four animated cartoon series; and Death Race 2000.

Having developed dance music's potential via debut single "Beat Dis" in to a more song-based form of what the avant-garde would term musique concrète, with its complex use of hybrid hip-hop-inspired sound poaching (in place of actual played sounds) taken to logical extremes, Simenon pre-empted a style that would do well by several major acts in the years to come.

So, whilst the downbeat experimental "Winter in July" and "Love So True" would pave the way for trip hop, the uptempo breakbeat-heavy side of Unknown Territory, would be taken into more punk-laced territory as the riotous sound of The Prodigy, from their Music for the Jilted Generation album onwards. Further to which, the style would also be explored further by - and prove infinitely more successful, commercially speaking, for - the likes of Fat Boy Slim as the genre known as bigbeat.

Interviewed for Sound on Sound magazine in 1995, Simenon agreed with the interviewer when it was suggested that, with this more frenetic side of his work, he was looking to "combine the art of sampling with the energy of rock and roll."[2]

During this period, Simenon also collaborated with former Ultravox singer John Foxx on the 12" single "Remember" as Nation 12 (which enjoyed a measure of success in clubs and raves across the UK).

New direction is Clear[edit]

In 1995, Bomb the Bass released their third album, Clear, on the Stoned Heights imprint of Island Records.[citation needed]

The album launched various singles after "Bug Powder Dust", including "Sandcastles", "1 To 1 Religion", and "Darkheart", but critical acclaim failed to translate into commercial success.[citation needed]

Break from the beat: Bomb the Bass as production outfit[edit]

As a headlining act, Bomb the Bass would remain dormant throughout the rest of the 1990s, with Simenon concentrating upon his work as a producer and remixer for other artists. So, whilst the Bomb the Bass handle would be removed from commercially successful releases, Simenon would appear to be happier leasing the brand out to others. Of note was his additional production and remixing duties on the one-off soundtrack single Play Dead by Björk and David Arnold. The latter would prove a massive UK hit in 1994, and go some way towards establishing Björk as a mainstream artist, and an introduction to many of Arnold, the man that would go on to achieve huge acclaim composing new James Bond scores. Other names included David Bowie, Gavin Friday and Depeche Mode among others; with the latter two projects poised to have a major effect on Simenon.

The Gavin Friday album project,Shag Tobacco, not only catapulted Friday into the mainstream (spawning the track "Angel" which found its way onto the hugely successful soundtrack of the Romeo & Juliet movie), but also caught the attention of a pair of British musicians on the look out for a new producer: Dave Gahan and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode. Says Gahan, "There was loads of names being thrown at us (to produce Depeche Mode's next album after Songs of Faith and Devotion), but in the end we picked (Simenon) because Martin (Gore) and I really liked the Gavin Friday album that he did. Shag Tobacco is an absolutely brilliant album, (and) we really loved the sounds he produced." [5] As a result, Simenon was brought on board to produce what would become Depeche Mode's first album without multi-instrumentalist and production-strong Alan Wilder, Ultra.[citation needed]

Quoted in the biography, Depeche Mode: Black Celebration by Steve Malins, Simenon confessed, "I just felt f*cked by the end of the recording, and I carried on working in January and February 1997, which was the worst thing I could have done. I started to feel really ill. So I took a break and had a few months off. I was just mentally and physically exhausted."

The work in question, which took the form of recording sessions with Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto would not surface for many years, leaving a further single with Depeche Mode, Only When I Lose Myself as the last major Simenon outing for many years. "It'd been non-stop for more than 10 years, and I was just burnt out. It all just caught up, and took its toll; just left me feeling very, very uninspired."[6]

1990s become 2000s, become Electric Tones[edit]

In 2001 Simenon was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for the remake to the theme tune of the BBC television series Randall and Hopkirk, which he co-wrote with David Arnold.[citation needed]

Fast, which featured Shawn Lee, surfaced as a track on a 4-track compilation 12-inch single released on the We Love You label. Next would come the Clear Cut EP, which was released on Morr Music in 2001.[citation needed]

After which came the Tracks EP, recorded in collaboration with Jack Dangers, from Meat Beat Manifesto, and the first actual Bomb the Bass material to be released via Electric Tones. With all tracks co-credited to Bomb the Bass & Jack Dangers, the recording sessions were listed as having taken place years earlier, in 1998, suggesting the material had been pulled from the vaults. In time, it would transpire that the material with Dangers had originally been intended (as what would later prove to have been a false-start) for the fourth Bomb the Bass album.

Further to this, an additional remix of "Clear Cut" would feature as the fourth track on the Electric Tones compilation, Electric Tones 9101112.[citation needed]

Future Chaos: Bomb the Bass in the 21st century[edit]

In November 2006, news was posted by Simenon on the Bomb the Bass Myspace page that a new album had been recorded, and was about to be mixed. Much later, in January 2008, and again without fanfare through their Myspace page, it was announced that the Future Chaos album would indeed see the light of day - in May of the same year. Performed, for the best part, with Simenon working on a vintage Minimoog synth, the album consists of nine tracks that are markedly more electronic and stripped down than previous efforts. In doing so, and with the strong use of the analogue Minimoog lending a cohesive feel across the set, Simenon appears to have reset Bomb the Bass back to dance music's sparse, machine-like origins. Out go the soulful aspects of house, in favour of amplifying the genre's more chilly European aspects of angular rhythms and simplified synth tones.

As with all previous Bomb the Bass albums, Future Chaos looks to be a collaborative outing. Simenon has teamed up with former Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age singer, Mark Lanegan, Fujiya & Miyagi, and Richard Thair and Jakeone of Toob. Most notable is the appearance of Paul Conboy, who is best known for his partnership with Adrian Corker in A.P.E. and Corker Conboy. Conboy sings on five tracks, has co-written a great deal of the music, and also co-produces alongside Simenon, making this the most collaborative Bomb the Bass album to date. Adam Sky has also become involved with the project, by way of contributing a remix of the track "Butterfingers".

With Bomb the Bass now up and running as a viable four-piece live band, rather than production orientated studio entity, live concert dates are being slowly added to coincide with the intended autumn 2008 release of Future Chaos.

It was originally thought that "Butterfingers" (featuring Fujiya & Miyagi) would be the first single released from Future Chaos, as an animated short film for the track surfaced on YouTube in March 2008.[7] The clip, which was produced by Perish Factory visualizes the new minimal sound of the band by featuring an animated Minimoog - as used on the track.[7]

Reviewing "Butterfingers", Daily Music Guide described it as showing "the new Bomb the Bass plug straight into a place where scuffed Formica is sexier than leather, and red LED is the font of all knowledge. Having worked through all those zeroes and ones only to come up wanting, Bomb the Bass have seemingly gone back to come forwards once again, with the result being a track that easily lives up to the sum of its parts."[8]

Bomb the Bass confirmed they would perform their first London gig in almost 20 years, at the London Astoria on 4 June 2008; and are also billed as appearing at the UK dance music festival, The Big Chill, on 2 August 2008, in Ledbury, Herefordshire[7] and the Zürich festival, Lethargy '08.[7]

In May 2008, the second Future Chaos linked Bomb the Bass film appeared on the internet - this time for So Special. Featuring vocals by Paul Conboy, the promotional short was directed by Nathalie Teirlinck (whose award-winning short film Anemone was selected for Locarno and The Times BFI film festivals in 2007) and Ben Van Alboom (a member of the European photographers collective, Angels & Ghosts). The film featured hidden-camera footage of trans-sexual prostitutes working in Brussels .[7]

The Future Is Now: The release of Future Chaos[edit]

In an online interview with Tim Simenon[9] in May 2008, it was remarked that Future Chaos would finally be released in August 2008. In the same interview, Simenon commented that the album had taken so long to complete partly because he had wanted to change direction, to take on a more simplistic, less cluttered feel - necessitating a restart and re-record.

The same week, a new track, "Fuzzbox", was made available as a free download at the website of the UK radio station, Xfm. A single sleeve was also made available free as part of the download. This being the first sighting of new Bomb the Bass artwork/branding, the style suggested the look of the campaign will be one of collage all done by the Brazilian artist Sesper.

At the beginning of July 2008 the band's official MySpace page posted news that Simenon had finally signed a new recording contract with the Berlin-based international label !K7,[7] and that the Future Chaos album - featuring nine tracks, plus the option of extra tracks on different formats - would be released globally on 15 September of that year (with the U.S. following slightly later on 30 September). The news bulletin also stated that So Special (with Paul Conboy on lead vocals) would be released 25 August as the first official single ahead of the album.

A third online film was released (via YouTube) during July, again signposted by a news blog on the Bomb the Bass Myspace page. This time, it was the turn of Burn The Bunker featuring Toob.[10]

Future Chaos was finally released through !K7 in all territories (except the US) on 15 September 2008 (with the States to follow on 30 September). The album, which contained nine tracks was made available on three main formats: single disc CD, a limited edition double CD (with eight remixes, and a bonus track, "Star", featuring Paul Conboy on vocals), vinyl, and download (again, containing the added tenth track, "Star").

At the beginning of October 2008, and to maintain momentum between the release of singles, Simenon posted a fourth online film via YouTube. Directed by Corin Hardy (The Horrors, Guillemots, Keane and The Feeling), Fuzzbox featured stop-frame animation toys, everyday objects and specially commissioned photographs of Jon Spencer (the track's vocalist) mouthing lines from the song.

"Butterfingers", featuring Fujiya & Miyagi, was finally released as the second single from the Future Chaos album, (globally) on 3 November 2008 (with the US to follow on 25 November). Made available on 12" vinyl and download, the single included remixes by Adam Sky and Various.

"Black River" was the third single to be released from Future Chaos. Made available 10 February 2009 on download, the track features Mark Lanegan on vocals. New remixes were made available, so in addition to an earlier recut by Gui Boratto, further versions were done by Maps and Patrice Baumel.

Back to the racks, Back to Light: BTB in 2009-10[edit]

In September 2009, using Twitter, Simenon revealed that work was almost complete on the follow-up to Future Chaos.[11] Around the same time and also via Twitter, Jakeone of Toob announced he had just completed remix duties on a new track called The Infinites.[12]

In November 2009, FM Radio Gods announced their involvement in the upcoming Bomb the Bass album, having completed remix duties on a track called Boy/Girl. BTB also announced the first single would be The Infinites (with Paul Conboy on vocals), and is due for release 22 December 2009. It is due to be followed by three more singles (one a month for the following months) until the album is released in March 2010.[13]

The next month, Bomb the Bass announced the new album of ten new tracks, produced in conjunction with Brazil's Gui Boratto (who first worked with BTB on a remix of the Black River single) would be released through !K7 in March 2010. Called Back to Light after a line taken from the first single (The Infinites), the album would be a development on from the analogue electronic direction taken with Future Chaos; yet more uptempo, inspired in part by the band's live shows in 2008. The relative speed in which Back to Light was recorded (twelve months, compared to the fourteen-year gestation of Future Chaos) suggests that Simenon's return to Bomb the Bass duties is a permanent one.[14]


Albums and EPs[edit]


Year Single Peak positions Album
NZ US Dance
1988 "Beat Dis" 2 4 8 10 6 3 4 5 1 Into The Dragon
"Megablast/Don't Make Me Wait" 6 12 29 33 19 19
"Say A Little Prayer" (feat. Maureen) 10 11 9 18 54 21
1991 "Love So True" Unknown Territory
"Winter In July" 7 21 6 37 39 21 32
"The Air You Breathe" 52 54
1992 "Keep Giving Me Love" (a re-recording of Love So True) 62 single only
1994 "Bug Powder Dust" (feat. Justin Warfield) 24 34 Clear
"Darkheart" (feat. Spikey Tee) 35 95
1995 "1 To 1 Religion" (feat. Carlton) 53
"Sandcastles" 54
2001 "Clear Cut" (feat. Lali Puna) singles only
2008 "Butterfingers" (feat. Fujiya & Miyagi) Future Chaos
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Other promo/download only singles

  • Empire (1996) promo only
  • So Special (featuring Paul Conboy) (26 August 2008) download
  • Butterfingers (featuring Fujiya & Miyagi) (4 November / November 25 (USA), 2008) 12" & download
  • Black River (featuring Mark Lanegan) (10 February 2009) download
  • The Infinites (featuring Paul Conboy) (22 December 2009) download
  • X Ray Eyes (featuring Kelley Polar) (20 January 2010) download
  • Boy / Girl (featuring Paul Conboy) (18 February 2010) download
  • Up the Mountain (featuring The Battle of Land & Sea) (2 March 2010) download
  • X Ray Eyes (The Remix EP) (featuring Kelley Polar) (1 June 2010) download
  • Wandering Star (19 April 2013) download
  • Time Falls Apart (26 July 2013) download
  • Just This Universe (30 August 2013) download

Other contributions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IMO Records. "Bomb the Bass Biography", IMO Records, London, Retrieved on 25 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Tingen, Paul (1995-03-01). "Tim Simenon: Bomb The Bass". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  3. ^ "BBC - Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Brits25 - Unfinished Sympathy". BBC. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2008-02-08). "Energy Flash". Picador. 
  5. ^ Malins, Steve (2006). "Depeche Mode: Black Celebration". André Deutsch. 
  6. ^ "Tim Simenon: q&a". Steve Jansen. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Simenon, Tim (2008-03-01). "Myspace page: Bomb The Bass". Tim Simenon. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  8. ^ Jansen, Steve (2008-04-21). "Review of Butterfingers by Bomb The Bass". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  9. ^ Jansen, Steve (2008-03-29). "Interview with Tim Simenon". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  10. ^ Simenon, Tim (2008-07-20). "Myspace page: Bomb The Bass". Tim Simenon. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  11. ^ "Bomb The Bass (@bomb_the_bass)". Twitter. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Jake Williams (@jakeoneuk)". Twitter. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  13. ^ UK. "Bomb the Bass | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  14. ^ "09.12.09 - The Infinites remixes & album news van Bomb the Bass op Myspace". 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  15. ^ "Official Charts Company: Bomb The Bass". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  16. ^ "Bomb The Bass - German Chart". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  17. ^ Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  18. ^ "Bomb The Bass - US Dance Club Songs". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 

External links[edit]