Nick’s Picks: Best Bass Trips
It’s always fun when a bass line can explore the boundaries of how unique a song can sound. Rather than staying under the radar, so to speak, the right effects pedal or playing style can elevate any track. It’s not often, but sometimes the bass can be the star of the show, providing something undeniably powerful and eccentric. These are some of my favorite examples of trippy bass lines where the player provides a great example of how weird and unique a song can sound.
Muse: Hysteria (Chris Wolstenholme)
I’ve seen this bass line on plenty of favorite lists and I can’t argue with the sentiment. Talking about endurance, this line doesn’t quit and gives the track an incredible and consistent pulse that never lets up. Wolstenholme does a lot of octave work and pull offs which makes this trippy bass line feel like a math equation.
Jamiroquai: Virtual Insanity (Stuart Zender)
This tight acid jazz tune is a personal favorite, especially because the bass line is everywhere. Zender slaps it up, takes it for a walk, flirts with some harmonies and sneaks in plenty of little solos that give the song loads of texture. It’s fun and funky, and never gets boring. This video is incredible, but be sure to check out the album version as well for extra bass trippiness.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Falling into Grace (Flea)
Using an auto-wah and an envelope filter for this simple but deliciously trippy bass line, Flea creates a singular backdrop for some throaty guitar growls and catchy vocals. Not to say the other members of the group don’t bring their usual skills to the canvass, but the bass is so present and fun sounding it’s hard not to want to learn how he does it.
Tool: Disposition (Justin Chancellor)
The bass harmonics are what make this song sound otherworldly and ominous. It’s one of Tool’s less intense jams, focusing more on building an atmosphere and drawing you into another world where the vocals quietly reel you in. The bass work is trance-inducing and psychedelic. Adam Jones’ guitar work plays off of Chancellor’s harmonics as well, creating some unique harmonies.
The Beatles: Rain (Paul McCartney)
I like it when bassists get bored with all the rumbling and go for the higher ranges. It works especially for this song because of it’s lofty feel. It’s an underrated bass tone and Paul keeps things nice and elevated while still driving the foundation of the song. Competing with drums and two over-driven guitars can be tricky, but in this tune he makes a nice presence with his trippy bass stylings.
Pink Floyd: One of These Days (Roger Waters)
This tune technically has two bass tracks going at once (David Gilmour providing the other), but they fit together so nicely I’m gonna count it as one. Aside from some demonic sounding vocals by drummer Nick Mason, this instrumental proves even the simplicity of two interchanging notes can resonate deeply. The song is laden with thick delay and flawless performance for what sounds like an exhausting exercise in stamina and precision.
Soundgarden: Half (Ben Shepherd)
Objectively speaking, this is one of Soundgarden’s weirder songs; not that there’s anything wrong with that. Music and lyrics by Shepherd himself, it’s a diminutive song on an otherwise massive sounding album. It’s sinister and mischievous, and the psychedelic bass line utilizes a unique tone to give it a devilish intensity. The ending phrase is an especially nice touch for some trippy solo bass work.
Kyuss: Space Cadet (Scott Reeder)
Maybe I am biased being a bassist, but I feel the bass part in this particular song is the focus. It keeps the noodling guitars in sync and the minimal drums perfectly filled out. It’s a mysterious and hypnotic pattern, but never leaves you bored while the rest of the group piles on layers of atmospheric goodness.
Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit (Jack Casady)
It’s a song that reels you in easily with the prominent pulse of a gritty bass line. It gives a perfect foundation for this classic psychedelic jam. Casady’s tone is always interesting because it walks the line between clean and dirty. The groovy simplicity of this particular song always impressed me and the bouncy bass line is a large reason.
Phish: Ghost (Mike Gordon)
It’s bouncy and playful, seamlessly interrupting guitar licks like little jabs of harmony and percussion. Blending funky lines with subtle slap work, it gives the song good variety and personality. It’s a long tune, as Phish is known to write, and there are endless phrases to it, but with Gordon’s fresh bass skills the mood is always trippy and fun.
Thanks for taking the trips with me, I hope you snap back to reality soon! Hit me up with any suggestions and I will gladly give them a listen. Peace!