G Jones – Ring the Alarm EP
We’ve been over this. Booms and Claps staff = G Jones fanboys. At least we can admit it, right?. It should come as no surprise that we found Santa Cruz native Greg Jones’ most recent EP ‘Ring the Alarm‘ to be quite the release. It’s been almost a year since he released his ‘Eyes‘ EP on Doshy‘s imprint, Robox Neotech. Since then, fans have been aching for new G Jones tunes. Although he dropped many free downloads, collaborations, and remixes on us over the past year, we’ve all known there was something huge in the works for quite some time. Once we heard that the release was coming out on German label Saturate Records, the hype that had been building since ‘Eyes’ swelled exponentially. The release of his “Low End Theory” mix four months ago was especially influential in the anticipation of this EP, as it featured many of the tracks released on ‘Ring the Alarm,’ including the title track. This gave fans a taste of what was to come, and created a frenzy of hype that grew and grew until the EP finally dropped last Tuesday.
Although we heard several of the tunes on the EP before its release in mixes, live sets, and Soundcloud clips, the majesty of the fully compiled release was awe-inspiring, and gave new meaning to each of the tracks. While Greg takes a vastly different approach to each tune, his specific brand of 808-heavy, grime-influenced, purpley space-bass music can be noted in each track, giving the release a continuity and cohesion that is uncommon in the bass music community. The addition of collaborative tunes with bass wizards Mad Zach, Doshy, and Minnesota to the EP gives the release an original, distinct vibe that retains Greg’s sound perfectly while complementing the collaborators’ own definitive styles. We have loved every G Jones release so far, to the point that we can’t even be sure this is our favorite due to our immense appreciation for ‘Eyes’, ‘Transmissions’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Mile High Club’ (w/ Minnesota) and everything in between, but I can say this: ‘Ring the Alarm’ is definitely on some serious “level-up shit.” Psychedelic 808 bass music of this brand and caliber is unprecedented, and if it wasn’t already solidified in the minds of everyone in the electronic music scene that G Jones is on top of the game, it certainly is well-known now. He’s only just getting started, too.
Into the Digital Abyss
This is one of the tunes I had the least experience with prior to the release of the EP. The distorted intro creates a disorienting sonic whirlwind that swirls into echoed reggae chord stabs that are not commonly heard in G Jones tunes, but provide a fresh, solid foundation for the track to build on. These are especially appealing because they show Greg’s willingness to step outside his comfort zone and evolve musically. The chord stabs drop into a roller of a bass synth that is sure to get the blood pumping, especially when the arpeggiated bleeps (one of my favorite classic G Jones techniques) stream out and wash over the track.
Ring the Alarm
The title track on the EP begins with what is easily the heaviest horn riff I’ve ever heard in a G Jones track (in a good way). I first started hearing this tune around the end of 2013/beginning of 2014 in Greg’s live sets, and was immediately impressed. With ‘Ring the Alarm,’ he’s able to take the fairly traditional trap/grime technique of a deep horn loop and add his own flavor to create something completely original. This is another tune that was on the “Low End Theory” mix released in March, so it’s safe to say that G Jones fans were fiending for this track by the time the EP dropped.
This was definitely one of the most anticipated tunes for the Booms and Claps staff. After hearing it on the “Low End Theory” mix, I immediately knew it would become one of my favorite G Jones tracks. The intro begins with a synth tune that many have compared to that of DJ Shadow‘s “Organ Donor”, but it immediately breaks down into a buildup of massive 808 tom hits that push the track right into bass heavy dance-floor-friendliness. The track continues building as it floats along into my favorite section of the tune at the 1:17 mark, when the triplet arpeggios force my fingers to twiddle beyond my control. The tune has been heard in several DJ Shadow live sets, so it’s safe to say that “Pixel” has received his stamp of approval.
Orbital w/ Minnesota
“Orbital” is one of the oldest tunes on the release. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably are well aware that G Jones and Minnesota do quite a bit of work together, and even play live VS. sets together somewhat regularly. Their styles clearly mesh well, as exhibited in their 3-track 2013 EP, “Mile High Club”, and the Minnesota tunes “Thunderdome” and “Indian Summer”, which Greg is featured on. I began hearing “Orbital” in live sets a few months after the release of “Mile High Club”, and was excited to see how their collaborative sound had grown so much in such a short time. Minnesota’s purple synths and pretty melodies coupled with Greg’s huge 808’s and heavy bass tones create a sound that manages to both retain each of their styles distinctly but also merge them seamlessly.
Wilderness w/ Doshy
G Jones and Doshy produce gold every time they work together. Their tune “Ghetto Bird,” released on Doshy’s “Hijacked” EP (also on Saturate Records), is still seeing play on dance floors all across the West Coast and Europe almost a year later. I predict “Wilderness” will be no different. Making use of horns that easily live up to the standard that “Ring the Alarm” sets earlier in the EP, in addition to some signature Doshy blips, the tune blasts out of the gate into a metaphorical blizzard of Californian-German bass music.
“Enigma” is another tune on the EP that I was fairly unfamiliar with before its release. Its psychedelic intro builds up into a “drop” that may take many by surprise: there are no bass tones in the first bar. G Jones uses this technique in several other tracks, and it provides a refreshing relief from the traditional bass-heavy “drop” that many producers find to be the foundation of electronic music. Have no fear, the 3rd drop of the tune comes complete with heavy bass and more of those signature G Jones arpeggiated bleeps we’ve come to love so much.
A clip of this tune was made available to stream on Soundcloud 6 months ago, which allowed fans plenty of time to stew in anticipation for its full release. “Lowrider” begins with some creepy bells that are very indicative of what is to come in the track. If horror movies started using West Coast bass music in their soundtracks, this would certainly be the tune used in the scene where the stupid high school kids begin exploring the haunted house that they end up dying in later on. The high pitched synth would roll out as one of the girls opens a closet door, to find a dead body with a variety of unsavory creatures crawling all over it. The bells return at the end of the track, which would set the mood for the scene in which the high school kids reconvene in the foyer of the haunted house, realizing at least one of their friends is already dead, and that they are all probably fucked.
Spontaneity w/ Mad Zach
“Spontaneity” was also made available to stream on Soundcloud several months before its release. I listened to it so many times on the “Low End Theory” mix that it almost sounds a little strange when I don’t hear “Heerlen Beat” coming in after the 2nd drop, but that’s besides the point. Like all the other collaborations on the EP, this tune perfectly showcases both artists’ styles and their ability to mesh those styles. Both G Jones and Mad Zach have mentioned that there will be more collaborative work to come in the future, and if it sounds anything like this, I can’t wait to hear it.
I could not have asked for a better closing track on the EP. It has an epic, majestic quality that reminds me quite a bit of some of Greg’s early tunes (check out “West Cliff” for reference). In addition to being one of the more epic tracks I’ve heard come out of the West Coast in quite some time, it holds a special place in the hearts of many G Jones fans for another reason. For many fans, “Drift” was one of the first G Jones tunes they heard. It was certainly one of his most popular early tunes. This track’s development over the past 2 years has been inspiring to fans that have been watching it transform from its original state on Greg’s first EP “Mirage” to where it is now.
The point of the story is this: G Jones is here to stay. It is undeniable that this is already a serious contender for the release of the year, and Greg is showing no signs of slowing down. If you didn’t know… actually, scratch that. You already knew. Now, you REALLY know.