Label Profile: Billain Simply Dropped His ‘Codename ‘ EP on His New Mentem Label and It’s the Starting of an Period
The Codename EP is the first solo multi-track release from Billain since he brought down the house in 2019 with his epic, long-form sonic movie of an album, Nomad’s Revenge. It was a groundbreaking LP in many respects, mostly because it combined so many genres, created a few of its own and contained gaming-or-action-movie-like dialogue.
It’s pretty easy to imagine that a drop like that would take a lot out of a person and so it’s not really a surprise that Billain appears to have taken it easy lo these 16 months. He’s had a smattering of solo and collab tracks on Invisible, Bad Taste and Othercide but beyond that, there was a palpable gap in the bass music world that really could only be filled with the likes of this Bosnian visionary. Luckily, that gap has once again been filled, if not expanded, with Codename.
The EP is just the beginning, as Your EDM came to find out, as Billain has also teamed up with Codex (not to be confused with Cod3x) on their new label, Mentem. It seems like the prefect fit; most of Billain’s fans know he also works on video games and movie scores and both members of Codex (Ranko is in Serbia near Billain and Djordje is stationed in New Zealand) are also involved with cinema in CGI visuals and other aspects. With Billain on A&R and all three pumping out insanely interesting and emotive music, it’s a pretty solid combination, and that’s notwithstanding the huge project announcement they have coming up (stay tuned for that bombshell).
So aside from marrying deep bass, cool visuals and cinematic scores, what will Mentem be about? Billain and the Codex boys are decidedly and unsurprisingly vague and cryptic, saying only that it’s “cyberneuro international music collective originating from Serbia and stretching far beyond the reach of universe.” In terms of sound and vision, they want to keep it loose, which, again, makes sense if you know these guys. From what we’ve gleaned, all three producers have been sitting on a mountain of unreleased and somewhat uncategorizable music, but the idea to put it out on Mentem didn’t happen right away. The first release on Mentem was in 2015: a dual single from everyone’s favorite melder of amens and deep bass, War. From there, it was about one or two releases per year until this year, with newcomers Bohemian and Hermetik’s whip-snared shocker single “Protocol”/”The Real Power” and now Code Name.
Given the trajectory of Nomad’s Revenge, one would expect Billain to drop a whole bunch of experimental, obscure and possibly beatless work on us right away, but with the title track and his collab with Codex, “Netsphere” Both tracks are aggressive, fast as hell D&B tracks, so this should please Billain’s neuro adherents. There’s still lots of experimentation and interest points for the sound design nuts, however. This is another way to know Codex and Billain will work well together: they both have the ability to smash as much sound as possible into a phrase in a way that’s so awesome it almost rewires one’s brain for a second.
Surprisingly (or maybe not given Billain’s following after Nomad’s Revenge, the last track on Codename is garnered the most interest from the bass world. It’s been featured already on Noisia’s podcast and the video, since going up on YouTube on Wednesday evening, has already had over 3,500 views and lots of “mind blown” comments. It’s an interesting, experimental journey though sound design with vintage 80s synth roots and lots of ambient scoring. The video is pretty amazing, but the sound in the track is also so visceral that one can easily conjure up one’s own visuals while listening.
With a new label and a stellar new EP and lots more projects in the works, we’d still caution against saying Billain’s back up to full speed; those of us who know Billain know he’s probably not even in second gear yet. With partners that are in alignment with his elaborate and impressive vision and a platform that will support that vision and far beyond, there’s no limit to what Mentem can do. It opens up opportunities for fringe artists while having a solid D&B core. Add in the visual elements and music that knows no bounds from their current roster…the face of bass is about to be changed forever, for the better.
Codename just dropped today, November 20 on Mentem and can be purchased on Beatport or streamed on Spotify and Soundcloud. If you haven’t already gleaned this from the above 700-odd words, be sure to keep an eye on this label in the coming months.