AC Slater obstructs the norm in debut album ‘Outsiders’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
The premier innovator of the revolutionary party brand Night Bass Aaron Clevenger — otherwise known as AC Slater — defines his creative integrity in the form of his debut album, Outsiders. Hailed as ‘the king of heavy bass house in America,’ the artist has grown his creative brand from the ground up, rising above the ranks and succeeding in constructing a genre-driven movement.
After getting his start partying and DJing in the late ’90s, AC Slater would soon find himself joining the Brooklyn-based label Trouble & Bass in 2008 to release his remix of “Turn the Music Up,” a track that would introduce his stylistic severity. Today, after years of building one of the most globally respected dance music institutions, Clevenger seeks to further break through the fold in the highly-anticipated release of his first full-length record.
AC Slater’s meteoric rise, however, did not rely on appealing to the masses, but instead of the overhaul of the mainstream allure of electronic music. The Night Bass brand started off as a monthly party series where the avant-garde beatmaker could play out his own deep, bass-centric rhythms as well as bring in similarly fresh talent from across the globe. Fast-forward a year later, the trailblazing collective took to the road in 2015, introducing his hypnotic, bass-fueled brewery of experimental music to all corners of the country.
Within that framework, AC Slater’s progressive status was in full effect, and he extended the party series into a full-blown record label that would go on to procure releases from the likes of Jack Beats, Sindin, Shift K3y, Wax Motif, and more.
Devisive, yet unconfined, the vanguard was determined on setting himself outside the realm of normalcy, seeking out a vision that integrates creative self-direction with communal rebellion.
“I follow my instincts. Everything coming out on Night Bass is signed literally because it’s something I would play out, or something I really believe in. I just want to do cool things with cool people: that’s the ethos behind Night Bass. Visually I just want it to be very recognizable, and the events and DJ bookings simply just have to make sense for our sound.”
As for his debut album, Outsiders stands as a resounding encapsulation of AC Slater’s built up accreditation in the dance music realm. All of Clevenger’s characteristic tonalities in the 11-track record are present— the bone-rattling bass, the sweat-inducing UK garage tempos, and the infectious accessibility — all wrapped up into one vastly-accomplished project. Adding to the piece’s thematic element, Outsiders also features a roster of respectable talent that fall along a wide spectrum of pioneering tastemakers.
“There’s a range of people who inspired me like Sinden and Herve up to newer artists who are carving their own lane like Rome Fortune. Everyone on there is super talented and I think each could even be labeled as “outsiders” themselves, and I mean that in the best and most positive way.”
When asked which track out of the album embodies the message behind the record best, AC Slater finds that “Misfits” encapsulates the message behind the project the most. “The instrumental is hype, bubbly and sneaky sounding. If the beat sounds right and the bass feels nice, you know we’re gonna go all night” just capture how I feel about music: I try not to get caught up in the hype, just do what I enjoy and not what is popular or trendy. That’s what the album is all about.”
“I’ve always felt like an outsider when it comes to the music industry, even one as small as the rave scene once was before the EDM phenomenon. It’s my first album so I really wanted to capture my personal experience within that context.”
AC Slater does exactly that in Outsiders, weaving in his personal development into each song with perfect finesse. The record is filled to the brim with the producer’s most fundamental and expressive work. Starting off the album, “Ring the Alarm” reigns in a confident and assertive demeanor, fortifying the LP’s domineering edge. “Dealer” highlights the producer’s musical versatility, calling upon the resilient lyricism of Rome Fortune alongside hints of Tchami‘s future bass flair. Appealing to his more grungy side, “Taking Off” with Shoffy features gorgeous UK Garage elements, while his track “Dope Slinger” stands out as an unapologetic party anthem, filled with booty-bouncing bass lines and riotous fervor.
It goes without saying, every aspect of Outsiders is held up by the smallest detail. “As far as the album art, I wanted to capture an image of a group of younger kids that are outsiders, who have been drawn to each other to build their own family. I wanted it to have an underground feel. […] They’re outsiders, they’re literally outside of the box on the album art,” stated Clevenger on the more visual aspects of the LP.
Outsiders is a testament to self-revival; an autobiography of Aaron Clevenger’s urge to break boundaries and bring people together through a new force of music. AC Slater’s debut record celebrates the vision of non-conformity, the unsettled elite, the blazing individuals who seek out the bigger and louder personas in life. As for the artist himself, the avid producer hasn’t lost his touch, providing us with his most cohesive bass house catalog that can be appreciated by those who readily choose to position themselves outside the norm.