Independent Music Fan, meet White Flashes. White Flashes, Independent Music Fan. For about two years now, a songwriter named Dustin from Des Moines, Iowa has been quietly crafting delicate, ambient synth pop, and it’s about time the world at large took notice.
If you read the previous sentence and thought to yourself, “Wow, two years is a long time!” then you’d (kind of) be right. One concession of the digital age is that new music tends to fly under the radar of the average listener unless it’s kept afloat by the hype machine’s endless cycle of regurgitated song, video, and news posts. And if my calculations are correct, two regular years equals roughly ten Internet years. In short, it’s (kind of) a long time.
The reason White Flashes has existed so long without gaining much recognition can perhaps be attributed to the fact that Dustin’s disposition toward the project is uncharacteristically humble and unassuming. Shirking the most common route to indie-blog-stardom (that is, hopping aboard the latest trend or remixing the newest [insert buzz band here] track), he consistently produces quality music and puts it up for free on the Internet. You won’t find any triangles here, right-side-up or upside-down; no all-caps words sans vowels – just good tunes.
Some evidence of this rare form of humility: I asked Dustin what type of aspirations he had for his work, and he responded by saying, “I don’t really think about it too much. Just record stuff and put it up on Bandcamp.” Don’t mistake that sentiment for a lack of passion, though. Dustin takes pride in his work and wears his (quite extensive) list of influences on his sleeve for all to see. After just a few listens to his self-titled tape, it becomes evident that his music exists in a world caught perfectly between blissful ambience and dance-y dream pop, so it’s no mistake that he considers the likes of Brian Eno, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine among those who inspire him.
After flying beneath the radar for the better part of two years, White Flashes has begun to gain some momentum in the first half of 2012. This year has already seen the release of two tapes (the bold and evocative White Flashes work and the moody, ambient Small Flares) and one single (“February 27, 1974“). If you’re looking for a good place to start, I’d direct you to the track “Into The Unknown” (which you can stream below) off the self-titled effort. This is the song that made me fall for White Flashes completely. It takes the best aspects of an array of genres – the gauzy production of shoegaze, the distant and reverb-drenched vocals of dream pop, the pulsing beat of dance music, the atmospheric production of ambient electronic – and melds them into something uniquely special. The end result is jarring, and leaves the listener with a dire question: are you supposed to dance to this stuff or listen to it on a good pair of headphones? This predicament is entirely welcome, and I bet you’ll find yourself doing both.