Lorin Ashton, who's christened himself Bassnectar, comes at electro-dance music from a different angle than the typical club jockey. Instead of stereotypically accelerating rhythms and pumping up the volume, this Burning Man veteran, who'll share the Cervantes stage with Friends in Stereo, promotes an unexpectedly heady and complex agenda. His first CD, 2003's Motions of Mutation
(available, like all of his recordings, at www.bassnectar.net
) gives off a distinctly anti-George Bush vibe on tracks such as a remix of Saul Williams's "Not in Our Name" and "Agents of Bass: Swallow the Apathetic," a vocal collage featuring celebrity lefties Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and so on. Diverse Systems of Throb
, from 2004, has its political moments, too; "Laughter Crescendo" includes a sample from late Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. For the most part, though, Throb
concentrates less on speech than on pure sound, with drum-and-bass influences sparking big-beat efforts like "The Wicked Twitch of the West." These discs detail Bassnectar's attempts to develop a truly revolutionary style, and while he's not there yet, his ambitions make him worth watching.