Lab Group: Inside Bass Music’s Dopest Collab Project
Introspection comes naturally when it can be experienced through unique bonds and friendships. Invoking that sentiment, as well as an ethos of ethereal production, Lab Group is unearthing an unforgettable experience for listeners to relish and relate.
Born through the vision and co-action of producers CharlestheFirst, Potions & Supertask, Lab Group has become one of electronic music’s most intriguing collaborations. The project is an ever-evolving aggregate for the trio’s collective creative efforts in a myriad of genres, and dates back to their self-titled tour in 2018.
Sitting at the head of the table in acclaim is Lake Tahoe’s artistic son, CharlestheFirst. The 25-year-old infuses organic hip-hop roots with lush and experimental electronic composition, all the while developing a danceable style suffused in dreamy psychedelia. CharlestheFirst grew up exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, and likeso his music has taken on the aesthetic of nature and the adventure that coincides with it. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting, which he delivers on occasion while rapping for his side project, hawk.
“In both instances of becoming acquainted with Potions and Supertask, it felt so natural,” CharlestheFirst told MP3 MAG. “To be free sharing of our art, I could tell we were all meant to link up in one way or another eventually.”
Potions first met CharlestheFirst in 2012, and began performing together on the road as early as 2015. His subtle instrumentation and introspective modes of storytelling are illusory of the two’s attraction, but the artists genuinely connect on a personal level as well.
“Charles is one of my closest friends,” Potions—real name Robert Hunter—told MP3 MAG. “We met when we were teenagers before either of our projects had much traction.
“After that we began sharing music with each other frequently and writing new music pretty much every time we hung out. We quickly realized we had a lot in common too. We were both from Truckee, CA, our birthdays are right next to each other, and our parents spent a lot of time following the Grateful Dead. Charles is named after the Grateful Dead song “Cosmic Charlie,” and I am named after the song’s lyricist.”
Supertask is a fellow West Coast electronic producer based out of Oregon. Charles and Supertask’s first collaborations came in 2017 with the Escapism // Work While You Talk EP. His catalog provides conceptually unique and distinct music entwined with melodious arrangements that envelop listeners in benign solace. He started with producing hip-hop beats with friends and rappers but opted for a more experimental, bass-focused approach. Today, his soothing, eclectic groove emotes a poignantly personal experience through vibration and emotion, one in which he’s front and center at the controls.
“Charles and myself both released a song on a collective called, SVNSET WAVES,” Supertask recalled. “Our tracks were placed right next to each other on the compilation and I was blown away being exposed to his music for the first time. We coincidentally had the same festival booking about a week later, met up and started exchanging ideas. From there I was introduced to [Potions], and the Lab Group was born.”
I came up with the concept of naming the group “Lab Group” because it drew from the common nomenclature of referring to the studio as the ‘lab,’”, said Potions. “I had been very inspired by the communal nature of the early Brockhampton Saturation trilogy, which gave me aspirations to make music in a more collective way via a collective or group.”
While there’s an obvious synergy with all three’s production and a backing clamor for them to unite, Lab Group had never made an official release prior to 2020.
Each act’s personal careers were respectively taking off, and while the artists would drop collaborations here and there, the official Lab Group project would lay in wait. Despite the growing acclaim, fans were left in anticipation and wondering if there would ever be an extended-release. Then, at the onsight of 2020, there seemed to be an opportunity for the trio to dial in their effort and finalize a log of tracks they’d accrued over the years. Despite the pandemic complicating things, the trio made it work by connecting remotely and putting it all together. What ultimately materialized is the 8-track EP, Lab Group I.
“The pandemic hit everyone differently,” Supertask told MP3 MAG. “There were certainly times where we wanted to get together to work on the project in person [but] overall the project came together the way it was supposed to.
“We had plans to release it last year, but COVID brought up a lot of challenges in all of our lives and it was put to the side,” added Potions “We realized it was time for the music to be released partially because when we finally sat down to listen to the whole thing start to finish it had this special narrative quality that is reflective of a full project.”
Ever the collaborators, the final cut includes features from Tiedye Ky, Tsuruda and Player Dave. This ability to seamlessly flow and align demonstrates the group’s diverse musical backgrounds and combines genres in a way that is atypical in electronic music.
CharlestheFirst teased a few of the tracks as WIPS in his quarantine mix, Out of the Dark, and in June 2020, the group debuted much of the project on LG01-MIX, which premiered with a Twitch event and Bandcamp offering that signaled a surefire release to come.
Despite a long period of time between collaborations and the dexterous mix of musical minds, the project remains cohesive and intentional throughout its 8-track final form. The producers are easily able to navigate from bass-heavy tracks to more emotional singer-songwriter efforts, which offers a more substantial, tangible meaning for listeners.
While bass music’s intent is often portrayed as music to party to, Lab Group I is a picturesque reminder of why melodic bass music has connected the genre with so many. The frequencies incite potent physical sensations, but without the introspective and personal intent, the music lacks an intimate touch to live on the minds of fans. Lab Group’s intrapersonal conglomeration of sound and songwriting simply offers something more in touch than your average bass project.
This is displayed with the juxtaposition of songs like “Old Ways”, an experimental rap track with hawk. and the bass-heavy lead-single, “Banshee.” Each song transitions into the next with a narrative-like quality that is reminiscent of albums from a bygone era, while sustaining a modernity and self-awareness that is reflective of the present moment.
“Lab Group began as a way to search for the change we wanted in the scene as far as releasing music and experimenting live,” said Charles. “I’ve been blessed enough to be united with Potions and Supertask, [who] have similar ideas about what’s important musically.”
Ultimately, Lab Group I represents these artists’ unique amalgamation of skill sets and ideas. Each provides their different experiences and styles, yet find a way to make it all tie in together.
Lab Group I EP released today, June 25, 2021. Stream the Full EP below:
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