Some call the bass-centric paradigm in which dance music currently finds itself "post-dubstep." Others speak in terms of its components and influences in a messy mashed-up description that involves "U.K. garage," "140 bpm," "half-step," "house-tech" and a slew of other confusing terms for a new and different sound. Kastle (a.k.a. B.Rich, a.k.a. Barrett Richards) simply calls his contribution to the field "bass-heavy music."
Richards, a native of Sharpsville, Mercer County, was enamored with music-making early in life. "I was banging around on a piano when I was 5, little toy pianos and stuff," he recalls. "And I officially started teaching myself guitar and piano at 12. I loved it and started producing at 13."
Hailing from a small town, Richards relied heavily on the Internet as he honed his craft in the early '90s. Starting out with sample-based sequencers and the influence of electronic pioneers Aphex Twin and Moby, Richards went from chat rooms and forums to traversing the decks of the Eastern U.S. rave scene, all before the age of 21.
Now, after years of self-directed electronic sonic schooling, Richards is playing his originally produced music alongside fellow bass provocateurs such as Goldie, Datsik and Deadalus, at festivals like SXSW and Electric Daisy Carnival.
His most recent EP, Time Traveler, released on the Seclusiasis label, is the culmination of all of that transitional bass-music knowledge. The album posits a look back: to travel back in time and revisit the past, musically and emotionally through lyrical samples that drip with passion.
The sound, however, is very much of the future. Post-dubstep, future bass, whatever you want to call it; it belongs alongside heavy hitters like James Blake and Deadboy. "I was inspired by soulful music," Richards says. "I wanted to write something more timeless, more lasting."
With tracks like "Walking Away" and "Sea Legs," the soul is present in the form of gorgeously incorporated female vocals. The entire album is ripe with love, but it can still burn the dance floor with tracks like "Bring Me Back" and "I Know," two-step grooves with bright melodic bass lines that beg for head-bopping and booty-shaking.
Richards' M.O. as Kastle seems to be quite simple: make beautiful, bass-heavy music, which is danceable but still meaningful. "I just did it," he says. "I loved the music and wanted to make it." As simple as that.
KASTLE Time Traveler RELEASE SHOW. 9 p.m. Thu., June 23. Drum Bar, Rivers Casino, 777 Casino Drive, North Side. Free. 412-231-7777