Last time I spoke with Savage native Alex Brouwer, aka Vaski, he had picked up his game and moved it to LA. He was working on new music with various producers trying to navigate his sound from dubstep to something more atmospheric. Since then he’s put out two albums, 2016’s Night Moves and his latest Final Frontier which came out in April 2017. On Final Frontier, the sound is as one would imagine it to be, futuristic and mechanical in sound selection, sticking primarily to traditional dubstep formatting. While most DJs these days latch onto famous pop vocalists to make their tracks drop, Vaski is sticking to techno basics. He doesn’t need a vocalist to make his songs pop.
The only song that does have traditional style vocals is “Your Game”. Featuring The Arcturians, this track is one that could potentially make it onto pop radio. The bright, manipulated vocals paint a picture of a woman caught up in a romantic situation she’d rather not be in. The track illustrates the “game” she is caught up in and the feeling of being lost within it.
All the tracks on Final Frontier have a Final Fantasy meets Neverending Story meets Atari feel. It’s at once retro and modern layered together to form a sound that’s new but with whimsy. Vaski refuses to be pigeon-holed to dubstep and uses classic techno elements, trance sensibility and drum-n-bass to create a sound with mass appeal. His stuff is arena gold, the soundtrack to which people can freely lose their mind. Strategic builds don’t always equate to a beat drop into a dance groove. Sometimes they build up to chill out or into a groove with a few surprises mixed in.
A lover of drum-n-bass, Vaski knows the power of a perfectly placed breakbeat. The breaks weave in and out of his tracks, occasionally making their way to the front. The staccato pauses and waves keep the listener on their toes and engaged. Blips of short abrupt phrases pop up here and there but generally fail to say more than the music can. Vaski prefers to communicate via beats versus melody or lyrics.
Unlike the sparkly party DJs of pop radio, Vaski doesn’t hide behind a powerful lyric sung by Selena Gomez. He stays close to his roots creating music that still has that parents’ basement esthetic while remaining relevant amongst the dance community. His typical moves still bring something fresh to the table, which other DJs may lack who rely on big names to give their otherwise basic tracks weight.
Vaski’s punchy beats, sirens and spacey core on Final Frontier are for an upper class of party-goer. Someone whose feet are not swayed by the break of a beat or build up that never makes it to the top. In the spaces between you can almost hear a crowd cheering as mechanical whirrs and crunchy bass skyrocket. This album may not please dubstep purists, but trance, techno and drum-n-bass lovers should all be able to find common ground here.
Sarah Osterbauer is a die-hard music lover. When she does her budget each month, food comes after concert tickets. Find her on twitter @SarahOwrites.