OMG We’re really showing our age by posting this jam, considering that Macintosh Plus’s Floral Shoppe is like the In the Aeroplane Over the Sea of vaporwave albums. Other than James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual, no other release is as definitive of that mysterious experimental electronic music genre as is 2011’s Floral Shoppe. One of the myriad aliases of the alien creature behind Vektroid, Dstnt, and 情報デスクVirtual, Macintosh Plus simply has the distinction of being the one go-to project for internet dwellers that want to egg the faces of fans of vaporwave and its resultant micro-genres. “リサフランク420 - 現代のコンピュー”, which roughly translated means “420 Modern Computing Lisa Frank”, is one of the earlier tracks on the album, being a memorable fusion of MIDI-based mood music and chopped and screwed soul samples. True to form, the lion’s share of the tune is minimal and benign, reminiscent of the soundtracks of early 90’s DOS-based point-and-click adventures by the likes of Brøderbund or Humongous Entertainment. The plastic smile prison erected by the sterile vibes of what is ironically modeled after the hold music of the mid-90’s does very little in the way of comforting those of us staring down the crevasses of the uncanny valley itself. That said, an endearing synth whine, along with Diana Ross’s warm, funky vocalization really holds the song together and breathes a lot of life into it. This is not just a terrible 3-dimensional facade and some chopped and screwed lo-fi boogie from the early 80’s. This is music for a carefully manicured domicile for well-to-do humans. It is music that our eventual robot masters will be using to enslave us. Despite sneaking suspicions, we will probably feel good about it. Do tha right thing and give in to PrismCorp™ Virtual Enterprises with a free MP3 download of “リサフランク420 - 現代のコンピュー”, by Macintosh Plus. Afterwards, visit Vektroid’s Tumblr or Beer on the Rug Records’ Bandcamp page for more satisfyingly dehumanizing elevator synthwave.
Mirror Kisses’ latest release, Heartbeats, became officially available for purchase one month ago. His third full-length, Harrisonburg’s George Clanton (Mirror Kisses) appealed to his fans a few months ago to fund his Kickstarter page to get the album pressed to vinyl, and it appears that the goal was met, as hard 12” copies are slated to hit the mail rooms on or around June 10th. Building upon the dark 80’s-inflected dancefloor vibes of previous releases Soaking Wet and especially Bad Dreams, this collection of new wave numbers kicks off with an impassioned bang with single “Runaways”, released well in advance with the followup dreamwave ballad “Kameron”. Our favorite lesser-known standout, “Heart Beats Black”, is the unofficial title track, and with it comes a decidedly electronic edge to this new release. Soaked in the sound of Japan’s late 2000’s electronic shoegaze movement, the jam additionally features woozy synth tracks that one would only expect to hear on some VHS-laden beat tape from the summer of Washed Out and Neon Indian’s reign. “Shut Me Down”, another high point on Heartbeats, turns up the tempo, featuring Clanton’s retro crooning and whirling digital instrumentation in the vein of 18 Carat Affair’s decayed tape synth snippets. Upon first and second listen, it appears that Mirror Kisses’ sound is slowly becoming more and more heavily influenced by the sample-based vintage compositions of today’s rapidly growing posse of synthwave and vaporwave acts. The bass-heavy new wave guitarwork of BadDreams is just an afterthought here, as the whole New Order-and Pet Shop Boys-influenced darkwave/synthpop scene seems to be on its way out. Or at least it is for George Clanton. Either way, Heartbeats is a solid mixture of passionate uptempo bangers and slow 80’s reverberations, and we felt that it was well worth our money. If you’re a fan of Crozet, Lust for Youth, or Violens, do tha right thing and grab a free MP3 download of our favorite track from the album, “Heart Beats Black”, below. Afterwards, we highly recommend that you buy the album if you like what you hear, and grab a paid copy of Bad Dreams as well.
Phaseone needs to stop releasing snippets of his upcoming album If I Tell U, which is due out May 7th via Williams Street Records. Brooklyn’s Andrew Jernigan (Phaseone) really knows how to build that anticipation, because what he’s putting out is fuuuuucking good. After “Blood Spirit I” and “Hunter” were purposely leaked, two further jams from the release showed up on XLR8R on Thursday, “Arsenal Magnolia” and “Bianca”, the latter of which is posted above. A thick, dark deep house tune featuring the hazy crooning of Alessio Natalizia (Banjo or Freakout), “Bianca” is easily the stronger track. Layer after layer of impermeable atmospheric synth tracks pile sparsely one upon the other, interrupted only slightly by a chilling underground hip-hop-esque synth lead and a bleary pitch-shifted moan. Perfect for fans of the droning atmospherics of Foxes in Fiction, the urban witchiness of Friendzone, or the haunting house of Holy Other. Do tha right thing, and preorder here, or mark your calendars for May 7th, and hope that Williams Street Records will charge us a reasonable price for Phaseone’s If I Tell U, because we will pay whatever they ask.
Considering the official release date of this album is February 18, 1990, but the opening track “199X” didn’t appear on Soundcloud until about four months ago, all bets are off as to when </3 hit the airwaves. After falling in love with Dreams West’s self-titled debut, we frequently revisited his spheres of influence in hopes of new material, and this LP just appeared one day, cohesively comprised of material created throughout the past couple of years. Some of the tracks seem to have been released as stand alone singles before Dreams West even came out in 2011. Your favorite producer’s least favorite producer is slowly but surely creating again, but not without this first releasing this beautiful montage of the many shades and facets of his work since the inception of Dreams West. Kicking off with a sprawling Chuck Person-esque mashup of found foreign sound, retro samples, and a wall-of-sound, “199X”, while easily the most experimental jam on </3, really prepares the listener for the coming onslaught of varying vintage sound palettes. Segueing perfectly into the retro Balearic vibe of “Disengage”, one of Dreams West’s better known singles, the album remains steadfastly lo-fi and mid-tempo, yet punchy and user-friendly throughout. Its predominant tone is chopped and screwed funk, boogie, and soul samples from the early to mid-80’s, with the occasional detour into ambient analog synth music and early 90’s dance, the above featured collaboration with Tokyo Hands being an excellent example of that. That title track is easily the strongest song on the release, being a thick colloidal mixture of tape reel-based synthwave and awful 90’s techno haze. It almost sounds like something that Pictureplane may have secretly engineered. “Battery View” and “Sweating”, both being short vignettes, add facets of warped, looped audio glaze and pitch-shifted vocal sampling to the heavily edited VHS-wave experience. “Mind Over MIDI” regresses pleasantly to that sunny, beachside turn of the decade tone, utilizing the synth leads and reverberating toms that truly distinguish the artist from his brethren. At the end of the colorful, exotic journey, the closing track channels Blade Runner- and Apocalypse Now-era Tangerine Dream with an eerie beatless synth symphony of space age triumph and a deep sense of impending doom. If you haven’t already heard the lion’s share of Dreams West’s newer full-length </3, do tha right thing and grab a download of the album at his Bandcamp page. He’s not asking anything for what we consider a fun-filled, nostalgic cinematic excursion, so we think you really ought to do him a solid one and at least pay what you would if you found it at a shop on record day. If you are already well acquainted with the album, then join us in begging Raleigh, North Carolina’s cassette obsessed beatmaker for another one, and soon!
The trouble with getting into increasingly specific obscure micro-genres of music is that one can quickly lose appreciation for solid, well-rounded cornerstones of that genre of music. What with all this underground hip-hop-influenced witch-house and intentionally lo-fi sample-based new wave that we typically feature here, we’re thankful that certain foundational electronic artists like Lusine are still able to wow us. Ann Arbor’s Ghostly Inernational is headquarters to a plethora of hi-fi IDM and downtempo artists, along with favorites of ours like Com Truise, Heathered Pearls, and Mux Mool. Texas’ Jeff McIlwain (Lusine) is a veteran artist on that label, having been producing laid-back, unassuming downtempo for the discerning ear since 1999, well before the inception of Ghostly. Lately, Lusine’s albums have typically followed a predictable, but nonetheless rewarding pattern of couching six or seven relatively radio-friendly vocal sample-based tracks between opening instrumental bangers and crashing loud-soft dynamic experiences towards the end. “Cirrus”, the closing track from 2009’s A Certain Distance(and one of our absolute favorite jams, literally, of all time) is a stellar example of this oft-used technique by Lusine, which is reprised fittingly in the unofficial followup track, “Stratus” (featured above). Other euphoric standouts, like opener “Panoramic” and closer “February” also follow that trademarked build-and-release pattern, gradually widening that warm, bassy rhythm synth track until it threatens to blister with its heretofore unseen kinetic intensity. Teeny tiny vocal snippets peek in and out plaintively throughout the ordeal, and official single “Another Tomorrow” of course features the best of both worlds: the vocoded vocalization and a post-rock-esque instrumental movement. For being so white bread amongst so many highly diversified electronic artists, that plain, unassuming aura is exactly what makes Lusine’s music masterful in scope and sound. This artist and his hypnotically apocalyptic work stand out as a landmark achievement in the annals of ambient IDM music, in our opinion. Do tha right thing and grab a taste of Lusine’s lastest effort, The Waiting Room, in the form of a free MP3 download of “Stratus” below. Afterwards, bump on over to the Ghostly Store and pay up for your own slice of heaven, or visit Amazon or iTunes if that suits you better. Either way, McIlwain deserves compensation for this magnum opus.
Did you know that there’s a new Napolian release out? Neither did we until yesterday when we decided to check up on our boi. Computer-wave hip-hop artist Napolian Evans got signed up on Ford & Lopatin’s Software label, a subsidiary of Mexican Summer that releases the albums by the experimental electronic artists on the roster. Shortly thereafter, this intrepid 19-year-old beatmaker put out the Rejoice EP, a six-track graduation from that vaguely urban Windows 95-esque vibe we got out of his debut EP, Guns & Synths. Overall very whimsical in sound, featuring a lot of retro sounds and synth noodling, Rejoice takes a turn for the dark with the last two tracks, the slightly religiously titled “Ascension” and “Rejoice”. The above featured title track is by far Napolian’s most serious sounding work to date, as most of his sparkling jams tend to be pretty solidly major in pitch. Witchy synth haze cloaks the entirety of the pop song-length outing, which is kept cohesive with an early 90’s IDM bassline and percussion that would be right at home anywhere in Compton. The highlight, in our opinion, however, is the loop of praiseworthy pitch-shifted vocals that totally make the dusky tune a crashing darkwave conclusion for the Rejoice EP. Do tha right thing, and sneak a free MP3 download of the self-titled closing track from Napolian’s latest EP, Rejoice. Afterwards, buy it, for crissakes’. You can get it via iTunes, Amazon, or Mexican Summer today.
This is just a quick plug for Supreme Cuts’ Whispers in the Dark. The new Tumblr format, though user-friendly, is a fucking piece of shit and deleted an entire review we wrote up. So just take our word for it. The album came out last year, so we’re way late, and we’re sorry we didn’t come around sooner. Mike Perry and Austin Kjeultes (Supreme Cuts) are just a couple of young Chicagoans that didn’t make it as rap producers, so they turned those talents into something gentle and fragile, gossamer, and never collapsing under its own weight, like so many similar overdone experiments. If you enjoy that dark downtempo sound with subtle witch house and neo-R&B roots, then this album is for you. Fans of Clams Casino, Elite Gymnastics, Holy Other, or Synkro should really waste no time in paying high dollar for Whispers in the Dark. Grab the free MP3 download of “Epitome” below, and then snag the full-length as a digital download or on vinyl at Amazon, iTunes, or Dovecote Records.
George Clanton, despite jumping on the all too familiar bandwagon of modernized new wave, has really tapped into a gold vein in terms of radio friendly pop sensibility, while still retaining some serious hipster cred (*cough* Diamond Rings *cough*). Not only has Mirror Kisses’ Kickstarter page for their new album already hit goal (with five days left to go), but their new single “Runaways” is definitely one to remember. Released for free only hours ago via their Bandcamp page, the titular A-side on Runaways b/w Kameron bears all of the glittering neon vibe and exotic chic present in today’s collection of modern synth-funk and VHS-wave “hits”. The twilit synth leads are right at home in any throwback 80’s dance party, the jangly guitar perfectly channels the boogie sounds of times past, and Clanton’s melodramatic vocals and lyrics are the very manifestation of synthpop itself. The featured video, “a compilation of things that have happened in the past 2 weeks”, is hopefully a pretty exact representation of the live Mirror Kisses experience, something we’d kill to experience, by the way. Hopefully, once Heartbeats is inevitably pressed on vinyl, some tour dates will be in order, because we will go out of our way for Mirror Kisses’ retro 80’s-inspired fanfare. Do tha right thing, and grab a free download of the first two official tracks in the form of Runaways b/w Kameronhere, or just grab our pick below. If you like what you hear, toss a bone to Mirror Kisses in appreciation. First, though, you have to watch his video about the project here. George seems like a really funny guy, and we think he may actually be a bigger fan of 18 Carat Affair than we are. Wait, no. That’s impossible. It’s on, George!
This one’s a submission that’s dated from 5 months ago, before climactic single “It’s Not Forever” and all of the sneak peeks that Phaseone’s being releasing from his upcoming new album, If I Tell U, out May 7th via Williams Street Records. Until that fated date that we both get to indulge together in the most expansive work to date by the Brooklyn producer (and man of few words), we’ll just have to settle for the limited offerings represented on Phaseone’s Soundcloud and extremely dated Bandcamp page. This oft-overlooked entry, “No Makeup”, was apparently once tagged “killa”, which jives with Phaseone’s apparent early dabbling in rap music. This jam, however, really fits handily in with the sounds purveyed by Juicy or Keats//Collective, modernized synth-funk, digitized slow jams heavily influenced by the sounds of yore. “No Makeup”, with its contemporary-meets-italo-disco overtones, would be right at home between tunes by Jolly Mare or Matt Miller. With its smooth synth lead, its sensual percussion, and its glittering electronic rhythm sounds; we highly recommend you do tha right thing and give “No Makeup”, by Phaseone, a good solid listen. Enjoy a side to the artist that we don’t often see, and be sure also to purchase If I Tell U when it drops in early May. We can’t wait!
The closing track to Soft Lighting’s debut album, Slow Motion Silhouettes, really exceeds our expectations. Predictably, the guitarist for experimental indie outfit New Savages is heavily inspired by the 80’s with regards to this solo project of his. Going out with a bang instead of a whimper, “Relive the Motion” channels the vaguely 16-bit VHS-wave vibe that you can expect to hear in that really cool level near the final boss in your favorite throwback hack n’ slash arcade game. Soft Lighting’s debut full-length, while bristling with laser-like retro synth pulsars, is remarkably hi-fi and well-rounded. There’s the overall synthwave tone of bedroom beatmakers like Capo Blanco and Brothertiger present as a cornerstone to “Relive the Motion” and the rest of Slow Motion Silhouettes, but there’s also a conspicuous range of instrumentation, a high quality of production, and a very meaty selection of radio-ready jams. There’s even a pretty strong streak of the dream pop here, much like the work of Letting Up Despite Great Faults and Washed Out. It’s almost as if Kansas City’s Bryan Cox (Soft Lighting) actually rented out a studio to record the album. Gasp! Alas, do tha right thing, and check out “Relive the Motion”. It was our choice tune on Soft Lighting’s Slow Motion Silhouettes. Afterwards, we recommend you grab a copy via iTunes or Amazon for only about $9. Well worth it.