These days, when getting sample packs through the Internet is easier than doing your daily grocery shopping it is no wonder that we bump into productions which strike in their resemblance of sound. Using pre-made samples is an inevitable process, for those who cannot get their hands on hardware or at least proper software. But not for Dylan Stark – a Portland-based 24 year old producer – who excels at his production skills through his first album Heartland.
To call Heartland‘s atmosphere ‘tropical’ would not do justice. There is so much happening in each and every track that it encompasses not only the relatively-static tropical mood but drifts into busy New Delhi streets and Chinese new year celebration-like atmospheres. As given in the description, the (re-)sampling is the crux of this product:
Amongst the vast array of sounds that make up each track are samples from a multitude of video games, children’s television programmes, Pokemon, Russian youtube cover versions, radio advertisements for Bollywood movies and WWE wrestling bells. There are recordings of street markets in Indonesia and Morocco, trees growing, glaciers retreating, choirs from the Melanesian islands, the US womens cheerleading championships and 1000’s more vibrant and diverse elements.
Indeed, there is no trace of genericism in any of the eight tracks presented in this album.
The fist half of the album – Ashen, Shelter, Heart Land and Parade – is a massive energy burst, full of colors surging from each and every sample. I honestly tried to trace any of the aforementioned samples in the tracks but failed at identifying all, but video games-based ones (in Parade).
With an exception of Near Dawn, (which if I was forced to choose, would be the weakest track in the album and yet it sounds splendid), the second half gets a tad of laid-back mood; yet the rich palette of samples once again makes a spectacular picturesque visual.
The choice of layer flow and keys retain the mood throughout the album is flawless thus making Heartland an album you will have please to listen from A to Z in one go.
Overall, as far as electronica genre goes, this is one exemplary album how to properly use samples; Heartland embodies Dylan’s creativity and brings an solid piece of colorful music bound in theme through technique and samples rather than imposed ‘story-flow’. Next to Myrki Heima this is a solid candidate to my album of the year list.
Highly recommended: Ashen, Parade.
3. Heart Land
7. Near Dawn
There were one hundred CD’s (hand numbered) printed, I saw the last copies available on Amazon. 12” and mp3 versions are still available on the bandcamp website
Dylan Stark on Facebook: