Darius – FRAMEDRAG

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[ LapFoxTrax, 2016 ]

Darius is one of numerous aliases of the Canadian electronic producer D. Halley, mostly known as RenardFRAMEDRAG is a collection of loose ideas, mostly resolving around airy progressive electronics and MIDI structures, channeling the cheesy hauntology of 80’s science documentary soundtracks and easy listening tunes. The overall effect feels like being stuck somewhere between a lab, a shopping mall and an arcade.  There are moments of contrast here: while “OSC Tuning” sounds like Software, “Have You Been to the Tower?” sounds like a schizophrenic metalhead doing an old video game soundtrack and “Strings Fashioned From Old Souls” could easily be an extra track on OPN’s Garden of Delete. Don’t let the cartoony artwork fool you: this thing is closer to CERN than Anthrocon. Recommended if you enjoyed DiscovererDocumentaires or early Giant Claw.

Euglossine – Canopy Stories

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]

Tristan Whitehill a.k.a. Euglossine is the kind of Florida Man that doesn’t punch holes in fences while on PCP or strips naked in the middle of an interstate, but breaks the stereotypes by making music that is both awesome and confusing – in a good way. While last year’s Complex Playground was an outsider smooth IDM jazz masterpiece masquerading as easy listening muzak, the newest release is much more dancier, approaching club aesthetics at times. Whitehill’s balearic guitar blossoms in the distance while hard-hitting synths push forward ever-shifting rhythms and drum patterns. Music for sensory overload. Recommeded!

James Ferraro – Human Story 3

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

The newest album by James Ferraro is somewhat similar to Torn Hawk‘s Union and Return in a way that it also appears to describe the human condition in the 21st century. But while Luke Wyatt’s work seems to be an escapist utopia inspired by 19th century Romanticism, Ferraro is so 21st century it hurts. While Union and Return has a magnificent digital castle on the cover, Human Story 3 offers digital corporate drone wearing an Amazon box on its head. And it only gets more anonymous and dehumanized from here: music videos for the tracks on the album feature computer-generated faceless crowds filling up public spaces and walking in random directions, synthesized female voice recites generative poetry and musings on artificial intelligence and economics (Amnesia Scanner, anyone?), MIDI sequencers pose as a classical orchestra in a series of paradoxically kitschy and emotional passages with corporation-obsessed titles such as “Market Collapse”, “GPS & Cognition”, “Security Broker” or “Plastiglomerate & Co.”. Accept your fate. Embrace the smooth surfaces and location services. The touch screen is warm, just like flesh.

Torn Hawk – Union and Return

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[ Mexican Summer, 2016 ]

The year is 2016, and we’re entering an era of fear and terror. Humanity is in crisis, and the ugly beast of fascism looms over half of the world while terrorists get more radical than ever. Where’s the escape? Luke Wyatt a.k.a. Torn Hawk seeks solace in 19-th century German romanticism, inspired by nature and his residence in Berlin. Even with a cover that looks like a futuristic, digital version of Neuschwanstein Castle the album is a marriage of simplicity and futurism, pushing Wyatt’s distint vaporwave-y downtempo even further, adding modern classical arrangements inspired, again, by German 19-th century composers. It’s an optimistic album, with lots of gleeful, illuminated ambience surrouding the lush inspirational soundscapes. Union and Return will turn every young Werther into a Silicon Valley start-up whiz kid. Recommended!

Angel 1 – Rex

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[ Beer on the Rug, 2015 ]

Do you have ADHD? No? Then Angel 1‘s newest album Rex must be like ADHD in the aural form for those not suffering from the disorder. While all Angel 1 releases are frantic Internet Musique Concrete collages, Rex must be the most frantic and tightly packed to date. Always jumping all over the map, never settling on a single idea, it’s the perfect representation of the hyper-acceleration of the modern networks, it’s often overhwelming and downright tiring, but just like with many popular websites you just keep listening (browsing) despite the fact you’re morbidly tired. Autotune, glitches, weird samples, MIDI tunes, you name it – Rex is like a musical equivalent of Internet chum, yet it’s still very compelling, even addictive, to keep listening and absorbing. You’re trapped in a machine. There is no escape. Just blend in. Everything will be fine.

Eyeliner – Buy Now

When an album slaps you right in in the face with an incredibly tacky/cool artwork a’la the Memphis group at their craziest with some way over the top MIDI-on-steroids vaporwave synth pop from the very start of summery opener “Toy Dog”, you know Eyeliner doesn’t fuck around. Instead of washed-up, lethargic slowed down synth pop that is much vaporwave, Buy Now steps up a game with a new dose of energy, becoming nearly danceable at times, pairing up with chillwave at times, bringing some of that summer haze over to the teal-colored office environment with some palms in pots. Buy now, go shopping, get that new padded jacket you always dreamed of. Recommended!

TELOZKOPE – Soft Cyclone

There’s much more to this solo project by Canada’s TELOZKOPE than the vaporwavey package might suggest and the music of this Winnipeg citizen deserves a better background than soundtracking the ad for some swimming trunks. But that’s the dude’s vision so we have to go with that. Soft Cyclone is rich with ideas, from the vaguely oriental harps and ancient string incantations on “ByzantineCaves” to a pretty dank trapbient on “c r e p u s c u l a r R O A M”, which sounds like a collab between Zomby and Fatima Al Qadiri. And the closing “Derealization” could easily be lifted off a Joanna Newsom album. All-around awesome. Recommended!