Long live these devilish sounds...

Delicious bass; immerse me in your splendour. Outlook festival was back for its fifth low frequency loving year. And Clash was returning again for a second annual jaunt to Croatia, another boat party and more reveling in the lowest of dance moves.

The principal is simple. Create a festival that’s inspired by the bass of Jamaica but now caters for the world’s disparate producers and bass DJs purveying everything from ska and reggae through dancehall, jungle, D&B, grime, dubstep and beyond.

Its effects are simple as well. Being hammered by skanking frequencies over four days results in a very loose hips and an accelerated and more positive outlook on life. Their name and message of unity makes sense when you stumble out of its dusty embrace. Of course the world can be a better place through excessive dancing, social unity and a staple intake of ganja.

This 15,000 capacity is sited in an ancient old Austro-Hungarian fort on the coast of Pula, itself an old Roman outpost complete with its own near perfectly preserved colosseum, however the battle action doesn’t happen in town this week, it happens in old moats, rustic courtyards, beaches and boats just down the coast from Pula’s centre.

In what is now Croatia’s biggest festival, Clash were given the delightful task again of charting the history of bass over a three hour boat cruise that metaphorically set sail from Jamaica in the 1960s before docking back in the here-and-now. Earl Gateshead of Trojan Sound System and Glasgow’s Mungo’s Hi-Fi joined Clash’s Mr Mafro on the decks along with 200 bass addicts to dance the waves away through 50 years of anthems. With classics from Toots, Jimmy Cliff, Mungo’s own sublime dubplates and key points of jungle and dubstep the motley crew of revelers were livid in history.
Back on dry land the highlights were numerable. As a specialist festival it means that if you remotely like the sound of low frequencies and the odd Jamaican motif then there’s almost nothing you won’t adore at Outlook. It’s a pleasure to bowl into a new arena and instantly pick up the musical narratives with the shake of the hips. Whilst the Mungo’s stage is something of the unofficial beating heart of the four days there’s plenty on offer as the day starts around 12pm on the beach with lazy dubs and explodes at 6am with the latest in dark arts of rhythm and sounds.

The likes of Blawan, Addison Groove, Kuedo, Zinc and Jackmaster all nailed suitably key sets presenting how bass culture has infected techno perfectly. Then there’s the main stage old school of Lee Scratch Perry, Max Romeo and Congo Natty live who all remained faithful to the nostalgia of a live band with which to soothe the masses gathered to pay their rocking homage to such fore runners.

Equally loud and brash but a tad younger are Fat Freddy’s Drop and The Gentleman’s Dub Club, both lively and likely lads with a penchant for all things JA orientated. The former were something of a headliner and hail from New Zealand, the second act are from Leeds and count Johnny Scratchley, one of the festival directors as their charismatic lead singer. Both bring swelling molten walls of bass and the skank that the Specials once owned by now floats free ready for anyone’s ears.

So after four days of pummeling sound, plummeting basslines, the most vicious or seductive of MCs and some of the most innovative concepts in rhythms we walk away in a blissful knowledge.

And this is that the spirit of Prince Buster, King Tubby, Rebel MC, Goldie, Shut Up and Dance, Jah Shaka, Hatcha, Benga and Skream and all the pioneers who carved their name into the genealogy of bass culture regardless of tempo, rhythms or locations is very much alive and thriving.

We said this last year, and in 2012 it rang even more true: Rockers have Donnington, Hippies have Glasto, Trippers have Burning Man …. and now Bass Heads have Outlook. Long live these devilish sounds.

Words by Matthew Bennett

Listen to the Boat Party in Full below (nb: the MC wasn't recorded so please excuse the choppy levels at points.)

Running Order in 30 min sets:
Earl Gateshead
Mungo's Hi-Fi
Mr Mafro


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