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February 8, 2024
February 8, 2024
Thomas Tsuruda is an ambitious producer. The West Coast bass expert is often donned with the title of an “artist’s artist.” Perhaps he gets this title thanks to his origins as a classically trained multi-instrumentalist. Or perhaps, his projects—and the sheer magnitude of their experimentation—speak for themselves.
On his latest album, Unlimited Data, Tsuruda stakes his ground at the outer limits of what we call dance music. The LP was released via the Los Angeles collective, Courteous Family, which includes some of the mainstays of darker bass music, like Woolymammoth, Huxley Anne, Noer the Boy, and the late, founding member: Dr. Derg.
Coming in at a massive 23 tracks, Unlimited Data reads like the soundtrack to a long, contemplative night drive. In over an hour of content, Tsuruda explores a variety of genres, connected only by the overarching tone of the album. The opening interlude, “Lights Out,” sets that tone by sampling the spooky 1930s radio program of the same name. Amidst sparse ambient noises and static, the voice warns: “if you wish to avoid the excitement and tension of these imaginative plays, we urge you calmly, but sincerely, to turn off your radio now.”
This warning is a perfect introduction to Unlimited Data, as the first half of the album feeds on tension. Tsuruda transitions between dark halftime beats (like “Kava Root” or “Lost & Found”) and distorted four-on-the-floor grooves (“Pull Up” or “Corrupted VIP”). Later, Tsuruda settles into a distinct lo-fi aesthetic. On songs like “War in the Jungle” and “Do Something,” he shows off his chops as a hip-hop producer with jazzy, bass-heavy beats.
While most of the album feels very serious, it lightens up with tracks like the fun, sporadic “Tsuruda’s In The House” and the standout beauty, “Fields Of Crane.” Tsuruda even offers some unexpected atmospheric soundscapes. Notably, the “Cannon Beach” interlude takes his audience underwater with its fluid, drippy sounds.
This LP is the definition of an ambitious project—and fellow artists have already been recognizing it as such. It’s surprising that on 23 tracks, the only features are Alix Perez and Woolymammoth, yet it is hard to imagine anyone else fit for the intensity of the work.
been bumping my friend @_TSURUDA_ 's new album "unlimited data" in the lab today. watch out for this dropping next week. one of the most creative beat makers doing it, very inspired music
— G JONES (@gjonesbass) September 29, 2018
this new @_TSURUDA_ album is flawless
— EAZYBAKED (@eazybakedbeats) October 5, 2018
In certain moments, it is as if Tsuruda is scoring a moody sci-fi film, or perhaps proposing a new theme for The Twilight Zone. At other times, the album is a frenetic producer’s paradise, ripe with complex percussive riffs that may scare off an unprepared listener. Unlimited Data is the farthest thing from a one-note project. It is expansive and packed to the brim with the diverse ideas of Thomas Tsuruda.