Kastle releases debut album with 15 relishable 2-step and garage tracks
Though Barrett Richards has been releasing forward-thinking music under the moniker of Kastle for over three years now, Tuesday marked the release of his self-titled debut album Kastle — a 15-track odyssey of warping, vocal-driven bass music. With countless tempos represented, Kastle oscillates between slower 2-step jams and more upbeat, garage-centric productions. The culmination is an awe-inspiring first album playing off the sonic signatures of the past with a futuristic vision in mind.
Having seen Kastle open for 12th Planet three years ago in Los Angeles (a strange combination in retrospect), it’s been a pleasure watch his progress as an artist over the years. While I was initially captivated by his mellower take on dubstep, I’ve since learned to appreciate the diversity of his taste in bass music. It’s worth mentioning his Coffee Shop At the End of the Universe series at this point, an otherworldly exposé of his predilection for futuristic, soulful bass tunes. You likely won’t recognize a single track here, but that’s the beauty of it.
The album, by far the reigning accomplishment of Richards’ young career, opens with “Stay Close,” immediately instilling a soporific warmth in the listener, aided by Kastle’s softly-layered drum work and comforting vocals from Austin Paul. At first listen, it immediately recalls The xx. Austin Paul doesn’t necessarily sound like Romy Madley Croft or Oliver Sim, but Kastle’s production evokes a similarly welcoming intimacy — undoubtedly an ideal emotion for an album opener.
Kastle – Stay Close
Kastle picks up the tempo for the next three tracks, pulling you out of the comforting haze of “Stay Close” with the garage rhythms of “Been Awhile.” Austin Paul returns for the subsequent song “Without You,” with his voice heavily manipulated by Kastle’s powerful vocal transposing, while popular Jordanian vocalist Ayah Marar is featured on the house-heavy “Insatiable.”
The sixth track on the album, “Timeless,” is sure to take you by surprise. While R&B vocals are prevalent throughout Kastle, with the help of Armanni Reign, “Timeless” is distinctly hip-hop. Backed by a deep 100 bpm beat, Armanni Reign’s lyrical flow evokes the greatness of both Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z.
Kastle – Timeless
“Red Light” is another such track you can’t overlook, as it’s possibly the best of the entire album. Ayah Marar’s seductive lyrics craft an enticing vocal mystique, as “Red Light” employs a steady four-on-the-floor beat nearly throughout, making it one of the more purely house tracks on the album. With that said, in typical Kastle fashion, the track features a cleanly integrated halftime section two-thirds of the way through. With its brilliant vocal warping, classy vibe, and gliding synths, it’s easy to see why “Red Light” was pushed as the album’s first single. Fans of Disclosure will love this one.
Other tracks worth mentioning include “Must Be Crazy,” a more instrumental composition working off guitar riffs, reverb, and ATLAS’s powerful voice, as well as “Make You Stay,” a pure production with an enveloping atmosphere and conspicuous trap influence.
Kastle’s debut LP is not your everyday dance release. This is not the kind of album to be played out at festivals or in Miami and Vegas nightclubs. Rather, this is an album to listen to in the quiet comfort of your headphones or living room sound system. This is an album to fall in love to, seduce to, light up to, fall asleep to…this is an album for Sunday mornings, rainy days, dreamy moods and inspired contemplation.