LA imprint Symbols shared LAB 01—the very first in a new series of releases featuring collaborations between its founder Kastle and the label's signees and extended family—as an exclusive stream with THUMP, available below. On this stylistically diverse yet thematically cohesive inaugural EP, Barrett Richards has enlisted three of Symbols' more sonically adventurous associates for a track each: NYC artist Kadahn, Seattle producer Kid Smpl, and the depressive suicidal black metal-inspired trio, WWWINGS.
On lead track "Tension At The Surface," Kadahn steps up for a dose of dispassionately moody, interlocking synths undergirded with an almost grungy 808 pattern—it would make a great soundtrack for stonefaced bitcoin mining—while on "Agent Protocol," Kid Simpl gets involved for a frayed, hiccupping, and manic array of breakbeat arrangements. On the final track, WWWINGS joins in for some arctic, grime-inspired synth maneuvers, heavy on aggression and sprawling sound design.
For the special occasion of LAB 01, THUMP interviewed Kastle, where we learned about the importance of getting out of your safety zone, the concept of life-as-laboratory, and what's next for Symbols in 2016. Stream the EP after the Q&A below, and revisit Kastle's THUMP mix here. LAB 01 will be released February 26 on Symbols.
THUMP: What made you want to start this collaborative series of releases? It's an interesting direction to take the label in.
Kastle: It's quite literally an experiment in sounds, hence the title of the EP being "LAB". A way for me to get with various artists and kind of break out of my usual way of producing. In general, I think it is really important to jolt yourself out of your safety zone of all your senses and experience things different. This goes for all areas of your life. Life is one big lab.
When you spoke to us about your last solo EP, Polytopia, you described it as "more abstract [and] open to interpretation" than your previous work. How would you characterize this next step for your sound?
I wouldn't say this is technically a "next step" for my sound as Kastle. It's strictly an experiment, and this particular set of collabs is particularly jarring to really get people thinking differently. Don't be afraid of the unknown.
How did you decide upon the lineup of Kadahn, Kid Smpl and WWWINGS for the inaugural release?
All three artists have released on Symbols and represent the more experimental realm of our 2015 releases, so it felt right to include them all together. Even while there are four different producers involved, the EP ended up being very cohesive.
What are your other plans for Symbols in 2016?
Just going to continue pushing the boundaries of electronic dance music. We have a really amazing Kid Smpl Remixed EP coming at the end of March featuring Utah?, y y y, Eaves and SHALT. A deluxe edition of Polytopia is being put together. Also new EPs in the works by Utah? and myhead.
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