Wholeheartedly putting “experimental” in “experimental bass music,” Todd Holler, also known by his Toadface alias, has consistently been one of the most forward-thinking minds in the entire music community. Outstretching a welcoming hand to listeners, he protectively guides them to the outer reaches of their own consciousness, expansion, and self-realization at the forefront of his process. With jaw-dropping performances at EDC Las Vegas, Okeechobee, Wakaan, and more, he’s dazzled scores of rabid bass aficionados, much to their sheer delight. Now, he’s right back into the thick of things with the release of his latest project Gangrene, filled to the brim with 7 sensational, forward-thinking pieces.
Some bodies of work open gently, gracefully leading the listener into the overall soundscape of the collection. ‘Discover,’ however, feels more like the lift-off of a jet engine into space. A reality-bending melody greets you as it accelerates into the build before you’re hit with the vocal sample “Houston, we have a problem.” And boy, what a problem this track is. Coating your body thicker than Nickelodeon’s slime, every pour in your body will be stuffed to the brim with goosebumps from this bassy nonsense. A truly extraterrestrial experience, your consciousness is the last thing you need to worry about being abducted from this haunting piece.
Melding a sensational hip-hop beat with the production quality of top-tier bass music, ‘Half Ounce’ will have you gangster walking in a full-on alien suit. If you’re mentally envisioning E.T. with a gold chain and a full pimp suit, you’re on the right track. Contorting disarray into organized chaos is a feat of legend, but something Toadface conquers with ease and poise. Serving up so much groove you might break a hip in the process, ‘Half Ounce’ feels more like a full bag if anything.
One of the heaviest tracks by a longshot on Gangrene, ‘Big Mane’ is so large Paul Bunyan would be lowkey jealous of its stature. Serving-up squeaky clean wubs that quickly descend into borderline excessive undulations, this is one track that’s not to be trifled with. The sensational groove combined with the stupefying grime creates an equally ear-pleasing and heavy final product.
Defying all laws of physics, the title track, ‘Gangrene,’ unravels the time-space continuum with malicious intent, circumventing all previous earthly limitations. Sporting a hefty crunchiness that perfectly embodies all things irate, this is one track that would be an absolute crowd decimator.
‘Awkward Encounter,’ coming in the 5th spot on Gangrene, feels more like a delightful encounter than anything. A grimy, light-hearted romp through the guttural swamps of sound design, this one feels like a lovely combination of grit and joy blended expertly together. The horns and strings are huge stand-outs in this piece and add interesting accentuations that keep the listeners’ ears on their toes.
Just as an estuary in normal language is the tidal mouth of a river, ‘Estuary’ in this sense is akin to the last round of shenanigans shared prior to the very final moments shared with an old friend before a long departure. An energetic mental guide if you’ve ever heard one, adventure and exploration are at the forefront of the occasion, with never a dull moment in sight. Funky, fresh, and all-around fantastic, this is some pure musical fun.
Ending Gangrene in the most beautiful way possible, ‘Wholesome,’ puts on a masterclass with enough energy to be gripping, but not enough to be imposing, the mind is left free to wander while the spirit is still firmly locked to the Earth. A lush piano and horn melody shines the brightest out of arguably the most minimalist piece on the EP, eliciting concrete, deep emotions. A contemplative and thoroughly introspective piece, a sense of gratitude for life itself is a common experience.
Toadface truly has outdone himself with Gangrene. A deep-dive into the brilliant, eccentric mind of Todd Holler, and an exquisite representation of the growth and musical prowess he’s attained in his artistic career so far, this 7-track story told through sound is captivating from start to finish, and should be considered a top priority to listen to bass music fans if you haven’t already. Check it out in full for yourself below!