It’s hard to identify and relate to an artist as diverse and mysterious as William Benjamin Bensussen, a resident Los Angeles DJ and producer better known as The Gaslamp Killer. The Death Gate EP comes to us through associated act Flying Lotus’ record label Brainfeeder and features artists such as Gonjasufi and Mophono, who fit the bill perfectly here.
Opener ‘Fun Over 100’ teases us of things to come with its incredibly psychedelic rhythm which, if I smoked marijuana, would definitely make me want to ‘light one up’. It’s hazy and dark, and yet weirdly catchy and intriguing: a general rule that seems to run throughout the whole of this EP.
Second track ‘When I’m In Awe’ continues with the hypnotic rhythms and beats, which definitely could reflect a state of awe, especially when high on a certain substance. We’re starting to see a pattern here, aren’t we?
But then, just as we assume we’re in for a predictable ride through every weed den on the west coast, ‘Carpool Dummy’ steps in, rocking its steel drums and seeping with DJ Shadow vibes. It’s big, and it’s a sign that the current revival in classic 90s hip-hop sampling is making it’s way around the globe.
Those drums become the pinpoint in Benussen’s beats, and they become the heart of the EP’s most in-depth track to this point, ‘Shattering Inner Journeys’: an incredibly psychedelic experience that takes you straight from Venus to Pluto. There’s a distinctively retro feel about this one, and it’s a feel the Gaslamp Killer handles perfectly, gently intertwining it with subtle tones and sounds that feel like they’ve come straight from a black hole’s mouth.
It’s hard to keep up with what Bensussen is working with in this EP. It’s almost like a concept of how he intends for his beats to sound, offering us an insight into what he’s capable of, but also what he wants to get out of his system. Will we see the thundering steel drums, the retro space-glitch grooves or the marijuana-fuelled, smoggy kaleidoscopic rhythms he produces so well in the future? Only time will tell. But until then, we have this sixteen-minute extended player to fill the void between one blunt and the next.