May 21, 2012

Aaron Frank has been hustlin, hustlin.

With American dubstep mutating into ever-undesirable forms, it’s satisfying to see the artists on Oakland’s West In Dust label adding their own flare to the recent revivals in house and UK bass. Most of these artists have been making silky, uptempo electronic jams since well before the dubstep craze landed on American soil and their efforts are significantly more complex and evolved than the typical 15-year old working off a freshly pirated copy of Fruit Loops. And though they may not have gotten the attention of fellow boutique labels like FoF Music, West In Dust recently released an impressive free compilation and their schedule of upcoming releases should see them on the same playing field soon.

West In Dust 2012 spotlights 14 new tracks that run the gamut from ambient-inspired, Tim Hecker-style tracks to more upbeat, club-centric material a la Salva and B. Bravo. The common thread linking everything together is each artist’s well-defined style, particularly that of the more seasoned talent like Placeholder, Yalls and Xavier Leon. Label founders Glenn Jackson, who moonlights as a writer for XLR8R, and Dave Reep, known under the moniker Elephant and Castle, both make impressive contributions as well, but Placeholder’s “Pot Pan” will likely be remembered as the most staggering of the lot.

Sampling D’Angelo’s “Left and Right,” the vocals on “Pot Pan” are stretched, contorted and layered over a funky, neck-breaking rhythm comprised of heavy bass and gentle, hazy synths. Put simply, it’s Placeholder killing James Blake on his own shit. The East Coast producer will release a new EP on West In Dust later this year. Also set for an upcoming release on the label is 20-year old producer Medla, who combines the field sampling wizardry of Mount Kimbie with a heavy-hitting uptempo drum pattern on “Ruhl.” Most of the inspirations on the compilation originate from the UK underground, but artists like Placeholder and Medla are pushing forward on their own terms to some pretty incredible results.

West In Dust 2012 features artists from such far-flung locales as London and Australia, but the majority are US-based, mainly in California. Looking at it from a distance though, the compilation serves as an odd testament to the power of the internet in recent years. If up-and-coming producers from Atlanta and Chicago can bond over influences with producers in Sydney and London, it’s stands to reason that they should also find common ground when it comes to the atrociousness of Skrillex and David Guetta.

ZIP: V/A – West is Dust 2012 Compilation (Left-Click)


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