This quickly became a cliché in experimental club music, leading to the rise of a samey cinematic sound full of directionless sound design gimmicks. In the last few years, a lot of this music has simply sounded like the Foley track to a big-budget sci-fi or horror flick. Now, it seems like the scene is moving past those growing pains. Waystation Compilation: Sequence I, from UK label Nostro Hood System, is evidence of a more mature iteration of this sound. The club tracks here definitely channel the wide-screen aesthetic, with slick digital synths and a futuristic sample palette, but they move past the novelty factor to arrive at something with real musical substance.
The moments where organic and synthetic textures intersect are among the most exciting. On "Rajada," the Brazilian producer Superficie pairs exotic digital synths and syncopated hand drum samples, showing an unusual knack for both melody and rhythm. Mistareez matches dancehall drums and cybernetic sound design on "Libido," and his smart programming makes the percussion feel alive. Oddly enough, this pairing of organic samples with sculptural synthesis leaves the track feeling more of-the-future than if it had been purely machine-made. It's disorienting to hear the skin drum alongside an ethereal tone that seems not of this world.
There's a lot of technical wizardry on this collection. Take Goro's "The Sacred War Against One's Own Self," with its spectacularly detailed, maximalist arrangement—it's intimidating to even imagine what the original project file looks like. The Berlin producer clearly knows how to cultivate a sense of drama while staying on the right side of good taste, alternating big melodic moments with heavy rhythmic passages. "Sharp Gaze," another mutant dancehall beat by label boss Galtier, is bound to do damage on the right soundsystem, with its huge bass stabs and razor-sharp synths.
With Waystation Compilation: Sequence I, it feels like we're watching an aesthetic move from its infancy into something more coherent. It's no longer a talking point to layer reggaeton or Jersey club rhythms with surround-sound samples, or to bring heady, sculptural synthesis into the framework of party music. Now that we've gotten past the initial shock, we've arrived at an inflection point where the real work can begin. It's one of those exciting moments where the music still feels urgent, but now it also has a sense of purpose.
Thu / 15 Feb 2018
01. Goro - The Sacred War Against One's Own Self
02. Superficie - Rajada
03. Mistareez - Libido
04. Noire - Rage Riddim
05. Galtier - Sharp Gaze
06. Callosum & Wild Kid - Back
07. Lew Boo - Bonesaw
08. Lemonick & Krizzli - Nammi
09. SIM - Neuralink
10. Bungalovv & Aylu - Xens