Tranquility Bass

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Tranquility Bass
Birth nameMichael Adam Kandel
Chicago, Illinois, United States
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Died (aged 47)[1]
GenresTrip hop, ambient house
Years active1991–2015
LabelsAstralwerks, Exist Dance
Associated actsIsotope 217

Tranquility Bass was the stage name of Michael Adam Kandel,[2] (1967/1968 – May 17, 2015) an American musician whose music has been variously categorized as ambient house, trip hop, and funk rock. He released various singles during the 1990s, followed by his first full-length album, Let The Freak Flag Fly, in 1997 on Astralwerks.

Early life[edit]

Kandel was born and raised in Chicago. He learned to play guitar and keyboards at age 12. By the age of 15 he had begun to record experimental electronic music in his bedroom.[3]

Musical career[edit]

Kandel attended the Chicago Academy for the Arts, after which he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to attend CalArts. It was there that he met Tom Chasteen, with whom he started the Exist Dance label in 1991.[4] The two released several singles, including some as Tranquility Bass, later that year.[3] In 1993, Kandel released the single "They Came in Peace", which has been described as an ambient-house classic and appeared on the Mo' Wax compilation album Headz the following year.[4] After the duo released this and a few other singles, including two songs that appeared on the FFRR compilation album, California Dreaming in 1994,[5] Chasteen left Tranquility Bass and relocated to Tucson.[6] Tranquility Bass's touring bassist, Matt Lux, is also the bassist for Chicago-based band Isotope 217.[7]

Let the Freak Flag Fly[edit]

In 1994, after Chasteen's departure, Kandel joined Tyler Vlaovich to record an album on Lopez Island in Washington.[8] More than two years later, the album was released as Let the Freak Flag Fly on Astralwerks Records.[6] Kandel sometimes ceased talking to people, or from using his voice, for two or three days on end during the recording process.[8] According to Billboard, the album led to Kandel developing "a cult following that spans several genres beyond the dance realm."[9] The Los Angeles Times gave the album a rating of three stars (out of four) and described it as "the electronic progeny of acid rock."[10] It was also reviewed favorably by Greg Kot, who described it as "a grand journey through nearly a century of recorded music, a densely layered montage of electronic manipulations and live instruments made under conditions that were certainly unusual."[11] The album contained the song "We All Want To Be Free", made more popular by its airplay on MTV's Amp.[12]

Heartbreaks & Hallelujahs[edit]

After a long hiatus from studio recording and rumors of drug abuse, Kandel returned in 2012 with a sophomore effort entitled Heartbreaks & Hallelujahs. The album was completed on March 21, 2002. Kandel reportedly tried to have the album released on multiple labels, only to have each of them fold after he sent it to them.[13] The album ended up being released on Exist Dance, although it is readily available in digital format on Amazon MP3 and iTunes. The album is mostly new material with the exception of yet another remix of an early days single, "Mike's House".[14] Kandel seemed to try to get away from the idea of being an electronic musician (although some of the album still has electronics), with a dose of various types of rock such as funk rock and surf rock.


Tranquility Bass died on May 17, 2015, aged 47 in Chicago suburb Buffalo Grove, IL.[15] A cause of death was not released to the public.


  1. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (21 May 2015). "Michael Kandel (Tranquility Bass) Has Died". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  2. ^ Kelley, Thomas (2015-05-22). "Michael Kandel of Tranquility Bass Has Passed Away at 47". Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  3. ^ a b Margasak, Peter (17 April 1997). "Tranquility Bass's Hippie-Hop". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b Bush, John. "Tranquility Bass Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  5. ^ Owen, Frank (April 1994). "Disc-O-Tech". Vibe. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b Shapiro, Peter (1999). Drum 'n' Bass: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 358.
  7. ^ "Isotope 217". Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  8. ^ a b Lien, James (July 1997). "Tranquility Bass". CMJ. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Worldwide Dance". Billboard. 1 November 1997. p. 36. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  10. ^ Romero, D. James (13 July 1997). "In Brief". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (6 June 1997). "Blurred Structures". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  12. ^ Horak, Terri (April 1997). "25th NAIRD Confab To Capture Crescent City Vibe Spec's Clicks". Billboard. 109 (16): 67.
  13. ^ Matthew, Terry (14 September 2015). "Lost Astronaut: The Last Records of Tranquility Bas". 5 Magazine. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Heartbreaks & Hallelujahs". Bandcamp. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  15. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (21 May 2015). "Michael Kandel (Tranquility Bass) Has Died". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 May 2015.