Kastle - Reflections (Released 10/14/16)
The producer and DJ, Kastle, born Barrett Richards has been a consistent force since his debut seven years ago. Based in Southern California but inspired by overseas genres such as garage, dubstep, grime, and jungle, Kastle filters hip-hop and R&B through a unique lens, emitting an uneasily definable sound that is simultaneously familiar and foreign, accessible yet underground, finely crafted yet gritty. As the curator of his Symbols record label, he is constantly striving to push musical boundaries and break new artists, with releases like Los Angeles duo Vindata for their dynamic 2014 EP …For One To Follow and Sweater Beats debut EP That Feel.
It’s this dichotomy between musical advancement and artistic expression that lies at the heart of Reflections. Kastle freely admits that his role as a label head and his relentless focus on discovering what’s next led to a 12 month period of radical self-experimentation; as an artist, the rat race for new sounds overtook the purity of expression. It was a recognition of the need to re-balance that led to him swapping the concrete chaos of Downtown Los Angeles for more suburban scenery. What followed was a prolonged period of introspection and reflection, along with some Carl Jung. Gradually he was able to cast off the shackles of “newness”, indeed the album that poured forth is centered around the more classic strains of two-step and UK garage. Ironically, it took him removing his A&R hat to release his purest work to date.
At his own musical core, Kastle is a culmination of worldly influences coming together, each with its own rich history and culture, co-existing in a colorful, diverse display. Its a breadth on full display on this album, from the dancehall-inspired experimental pop of lead single “The Future” to the wintry, Burial-esque garage tropes of “How 2 Love.” Brain-scrambling atmospherics on “Masks” feed into “Surreal’s’ frenetic drum and bass. Like the colliding of objects at the bazaars and swap meets he visits on the road, Reflections, is an arrangement of quirky collectibles spanning many genres, each possessing its own past, personality, and sense of place.