The ascent of electronic producers from the obscure underground scene to the fringes of pop mainstream is a path that is becoming more and more common these days, and few have done it as seamlessly and organically as San Francisco’s Barrett Richards, best known to the music world as Kastle. With a forward-thinking sonic vision that skillfully balances infectious, sexy, bass-heavy beats and seductive, emotional, heavily-treated vocals that bounce off woozy, synthetic soundscapes, Kastle’s new, long-awaited, self-titled debut album captures an en vogue fusion of electronic, R&B, hip-hop, and pop elements that’s an ideal soundtrack at the club, in the bedroom, and on the headphones.
Emerging onto the cutting-edge bass scene in 2010 with a debut single on the Philadelphia-based, Starkey-helmed label Seclusiasis, Kastle’s dual talents as both DJ and producer garnered quick notice and fandom, due largely to the power of the Internet and Soundcloud. Expertly curated mixes that placed a spotlight on his formative love of American R&B and UK 2-step/garage popped up on Soundcloud to instant acclaim, amply showcasing his musical roots and talents on the decks. His productions continued to mature and flourish, evidenced by another strong EP in 2011 for the highly-selective folks at the Belgian label Silverback Recordings before — in a move that’s becoming standard these days — Kastle formed his own label, Symbols Recordings, to release both his own music and music by artists he’s excited by that fit a similar vibe to his own distinctive, simmering style.
Late last month Kastle dropped his self-titled debut LP on his own label and it comes off as a perfect culmination of the many hats he’s been donning of late. While his previous releases were largely instrumental-heavy affairs that featured uncredited vocal samples, the new record is dominated by vocal collaborations with a handful of labelmates and friends, most notably the recently-signed, Miami-based singer Austin Paul on three tracks. The presence of vocals adds a strong, welcoming pop sensibility to his underground club rhythms that continue to find a warm balance between slower, moodier numbers and more kinetic, body-jacking tunes aimed for the dancefloor, confidently flirting with house, dubstep, garage, hip-hop, 2-step, and R&B flavors throughout. Fittingly, the record’s final track features guest production help from bass veteran Starkey, the same artist that brought his first release to the public, providing a wonderful full circle aspect to his years-in-the-making debut album.
Performing a live set tonight at 1927 Events with a kindred talent in UK-based DJ/producer xxxy (his Boiler Room DJ set at last year’s Decibel Festival was a personal highlight – go early!), it’ll be intriguing to see and hear how Kastle fares on his own without live help from the numerous vocalists featured on his record. But even with their expected absence, his solo talents as a producer (and as a DJ) should be on full display and give you a good reason to lose yourself on the dancefloor.
KASTLE (Live) with xxxy
Friday, May 17, 2013
1927 3rd Ave
9 p.m., 21+
Tickets available at dbfestival.com