We’ve been exploring the back catalogs of several little-known bedroom synthwave artists lately, and we found an old release by The Pillars of Creation yesterday that we’d like to shine a light on today. The Soft Sound EP was released by Chicago’s Marc Zielinski (The Pillars of Creation) to little to no acclaim just over two years ago, due only really to the bite-size niche market that consumes these kinds of warped lo-fi synth jams. The track at the tail end of the four-track EP, “Gloom”, samples Reflex’s proto-chillwave “Night Jam A” as its base melody, building upon it with layers and layers of melted loops and whirling lead synth tracks. All in all, the rework alters the original tune enough to merit its own acclaim, creating a new beast out of Reflex’s seminal pre-Neon Indian synth track. Come for the funky key-bass and stay for the splashy, smeary surround sound synesthesiæ brought on by The Pillars of Creation’s notable 2011 song “Gloom”, which is anything but morose in tone. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of this oft-overlooked jam gem, and then do some traveling into the deep space that is The Pillars’ repertoire of self-released full-lengths and EP’s.
After hearing Heathered Pearls’ hypnotic avión remix of Diana’s “Born Again”, we were curious about the quality of last Summer’s original composition. Quite frankly, we’re fast fans. You know how smooth and dreamlike School of Seven Bells’ jams used to be? Then one of the sisters quit, they got signed on to Vagrant Records, and now their sound is mediocre at best. With “Born Again”, that lucid dreaming Balearic vibe is present in full force, and it sounds a bit like what we imagine School of Seven Bells would resemble today if they hadn’t gone to shit. A churning, bubbling layer of synth sounds underscore a selection of retro basslines, analog synth tracks, and exotic samples. In “Born Again”, that smooth late 80’s mood music style that comprises the lion’s share of VHS-wave tunes is the backing instrumentation for a sensible, radio-friendly chillwave song with strong, clear female vocals. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of the Toronto foursome’s experimental pop hit “Born Again” below, and then check out Heathered Pearls’ powerful ambient rework afterwards.
It’s a well acknowledged opinion that the Summer of 2010 was a flashpoint moment for experimental electronic music: chillwave, synthwave, vaporwave, and the like. A lot of articles from that time capsule are being re-introduced to the collective hipster consciousness in the form of B-sides and previously unreleased cuts, and there’s just some stuff that sadly went unnoticed because everyone was too busy listening to Psychic Chasms (no hate). Daniel Lopatin, the experimental golden boy behind Oneohtrix Point Never and collaborative projects Games and Ford & Lopatin, released one such gem back in that fateful season. Sporting the pseudonym of Chuck Person, Lopatin released an extremely limited run of only 100 cassette tape copies of Eccojams Vol. 1 via The Curatorial Club. Akin to his Memory Vague collection of super lo-fi Sunsetcorp videos, the album is a mish-mash of chopped and fucked pop hits filtered through Lopatin’s unique brand of nostalgia-evoking editing. With “Eccojam A3”, arguably the standout jam in the two-sided compilaiton, that hazy liquid capitalism vibe of traditional VHS-wave artists like 18 Carat Affair, Dreams West, and Miami Vice is present in full force, but with an added hypnotic aspect to it, due to the incessant looping. True to his technique, Lopatin appropriates samples from teeny bopper diva JoJo’s “Too Little Too Late” and early 2000’s eurodance trio Ian Van Dahl’s “Castles in the Sky”, pitch-shifting the shit out both and looping with heavy reverb into infinity. The accompanying footage above is a bad found VHS montage of people just kicking it and keeping it real by Youtube curator Patryk Ludamage, and the audio is easily an octave higher than the original composition (and a bit faster as well), which can be found here. It’s remarkable how heart grabbingly, throat punchingly catchy this blended mass of glitzy cultural consciousness and surreal witchiness is, begging the listener to listen repeatedly, as only Daniel Lopatin’s bastardized compositions can. Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1 is most definitely out of print and very difficult to find, but it needs to be rediscovered en masse, so do tha right thing and grab a free MP3 download of “Eccojam A3” below, and ghettoblast it at the next party you attend.
In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s post, we’ve got another classic cut here that you may not have heard. In terms of iconic chillwave singles, Memoryhouse’s “Lately” ranks right up there, along with Neon Indian’s “Deadbeat Summer” and Toro y Moi’s “Still Sound”. As a result, there are more than a few remixes, covers, and samples to be found. This early 2010 Teengirl Fantasy rework ranks among our favorites, along with ASVHI’s re-imagined version of the jam. Employing that spacey, Balearic vibe that put Tracer on the electronic music map, the Teengirl Fantasy remix of “Lately” fades in with the lush found sounds of running water and tropical bird calls, quickly evolving into a dark, yet luxurious fantasy landscape of sparse synth sounds and Denise Nouvion’s ghostly chanting. It’s one of the single most liberal reinterpretations of a single we’ve heard thus far, and that’s exactly why it works. Non-Western trip-hop sounds give the tune a very pronounced jungle edge, further compounded by the decidedly early 90’s IDM influence present in the filtered digital instrumentation. Here, the warm mid-day bedroom soft focus of the original track is traded in for a surreal midnight romp at the foot of the pools on the rainforest floor. All in all, this Teengirl Fantasy remix of Memoryhouse’s popular single “Lately” is one that ranks among the better ones that we have heard, and it’s a shame that it has not received as much airtime as it should have. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download after the jump, and be sure to check out both artists’ respective portfolios as well. Pretty much everything Teengirl Fantasy touches is gold anyhow.
We did a little research on Nu Mäs, our favorite angsty 17-year-old musical wizard, and that entailed sampling his only full-length release to date, June 2012’s VHS. We were very pleasantly surprised. After being delighted by his more recent mini-album Distorted Love Songs, which was notably brought to light via Purr Tapes’ Static Spectrum mix, we expected to hear more of that moody, rainy glo-fi along the lines of “I Miss You”, and we were absolutely wrong. VHS is a remarkably cohesive and melodic record, but the most unique and distinctive thing about the overall vibe and execution is that Isaac García (Nu Mäs) sounds like he’s spent time vocalizing for an emo band or two before “taking time to develop his own sound”. What you’ll find here is the classic ebb and flow of the chillwave and glo-fi explosion, featuring Ben Gibbard on vocals, by the way (not really). It seriously sounds like a collaboration between Neon Indian and The Postal Service. At first blush, the marriage of that sassy retro sound and those introspective, self-deprecating vocals sounds awkward, but it quickly begins to make sense, given the subject matter and tone of the lyrical content. While we were genuinely expecting something rudimentary and unvarnished in VHS, we were definitely mistaken. The one-two punch that is “Obfuscation” as it segues into the featured title track is fresh, exotic, and highly nostalgic, akin to the love theme featured on the soundtrack of some awful 80’s anime series. Other highlights include “Clay Man”, with a soaring sawtooth synth sounds that would make Futurecop! proud, and “Plasticine Sky”, a plaintive chillgaze concentration that wouldn’t be out of place one of Pinemarten’s trademark three-track EP’s. Do tha right thing, and grab a free download of Nu Mäs’ surprisingly sensible chillwave-meets-indie rock album VHS today. It’s par excellence, and we hope that Isaac continues to create quality music with such heart.
Detroit’s Coyote Clean Up released an album late last year on Time No Place called Magma Mondays, and we’re sold if it all sounds like today’s featured jam. Easily one of the strangest characters in the experimental electronic music scene, Ice Cold Chrissy maintains a relatively mysterious presence, while continuously churning out varied digital sounds, ranging from dark retro chillwave to only slightly less unsettling cosmic downtempo. His output is probably the least predictable among all of the many members of the post-Neon Indian era vintage synthwave movement. “Mega Miss Out (dub)” is a relatively lengthy concentration, brimming with prominently plaintive piano plinking, whispy synth ambience, and a whispered vocal sample (“I don’t miss you”). Were it not for the obvious digital atmospherics, occasional effects, and tribal drum machine beat, one might expect to hear a tune like it in one of those surreal fully animated cutscenes in a late nineties era JRPG. The ghostly, overly sentimental effect wrought by the combination of these synthesized sensations builds on and on until relief comes towards the end, shedding newly empowered light on those sickly synth rhythm tracks and the poignant piano solo. It honestly kind of sounds the way we’d expect a Monster Rally collaboration with Supreme Cuts to sound. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of Coyote Clean Up’s “Mega Miss Out (dub)” below, and see if the rest of Magma Mondays is as smoky, hazy, and eerily memorable as this standout song surely is. Buy it via Boomkathere before we do. It’s a race.
It looks like Lay Bac decided to revamp their tropical chillwave single “Stay Out Tonight” on their new album Shriller, with an energetic new mix that really pops lushly in comparison to the original B-side that was featured inconspicuously on the odd compilation or two. The twilight dance floor vibe in the jam pairs perfectly with the found sounds of paradise, the cooing vocal samples, and the underlying Japanese musical aesthetic. Featured previously as a single with “Surf Michigan” as its B-side, Lay Bac’s “Stay Out Tonight” perfectly encapsulates the chillwave ethos. Exotic and non-Western, the vintage lo-fi synthwave tune is very digital, but features quite a bit of analog instrumentation and sampling, particularly percussion. It’s the type of track you’d expect to hear on the main drag in some coastal Asian metropolis, blaring from outdoor speakers at a retro-futuristic dance dive in the middle of the 80’s. “Stay Out Tonight” is the perfect song to show the curious outsider that’s interested in some sweet vintage digital jams. Do tha right thing, and stock up on a free MP3 download of Lay Bac’s reworked single “Stay Out Tonight”, and be sure to check out Shriller and the rest of this act’s discography, as you are able.
New YorkerStout Cortez needs to release more music. That’s all there is to it. This bombastic chillwave jam from earlier this year hearkens back to the early days when Animal Collective and their “My Girls” destroyed indie rock with their synth-heavy noise and psychedelia, giving birth to a while slew of imitators. Vocal chants and an atypical time signature (à la Gauntlet Hair) fiercely punctuate raving synth leads seemingly taken right out of a Cold Cave tune. The most surprising thing about “Berliner” is that it’s a one-off single, the sole offering populating a desolate Bandcamp page. The indie rock sensibilities and the clean production in the track juxtapose quite nicely with the intentional peaking and reverb and the messy, almost primitive vibe. The triumphant mammalian choir in “Berliner” makes the track what it is: an anthemic indietronic single along the lines of chillwave’s early vanguards, and it desperately needs further exposure. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of Stout Cortez’s “Berliner” above, and be sure to do whatever is in your collective power to convince Justin Hunter Scott to create more legit bangers. We’re officially crowdsourcing this shit.
Virginia’s Ruddy Paniagua has a terrific penchant for creating dizzying wonky jams, each new one superior to the last startling standout. Fresh off of a collaboration with Tokyo chillwaver Taquwami, Ruddyp cranked out “Maybe” just a couple of days ago, and it got picked up by a handful of loud web-based supporters, much to his delight, we imagine. The sensual pitch-shifted vocal sampling prevalent in a number of glo-fi jams finds a warm home in “Maybe”, taking center stage among the hip-hop-inspired beats and glittering space dance aura. The aforementioned neo-R&B robo-vocals really make the tune what it is, and they truly showcase Ruddyp’s pronounced talent and technique in making an instrument out of human ululations. It’s almost as if he just taught his synth to sing for him. Fans of the wonky sounds of 1990 or Sinjin Hawke, do tha right thing, and grab your free MP3 download of Ruddyp’s “Maybe” below. Afterwards, pillage his Bandcamp or Soundcloud for more scintillating glo-fi tracks, tossing the odd coin his way in return, so that he might continue to purvey such phreshest of beats.
ISO50 seems to us to often be a prime source of epic, minimalistic electronic music. Many a time, we’ve touched base with Scott Hansen’s handsome art and design blog, only to find literally limitless suggestions about great chillwave, synthwave, and VHS-wave acts. The group’s specialty, however, seems to be dredging up stellar versions of existing jams that truly captivate with their subtle build-and-release techniques. Panama’s “It’s Not Over”, retouched by Berlin’s Dave DK, is absolutely no exception to this general rule. The tune embarks with warm synth tones, a simple beat, and the occasional sentimental vocal sample. Gradually, live percussion joins the electronic ensemble, really peaking near the middle of the opus, keeping time on center stage. Dave DK’s re-imagined version of Panama’s “It’s Not Over” is truly a feather in his cap, as the track delivers intimacy, nostalgia, and drama strongly within its eight-and-a-half minute minimalistic tech-house confines. Picture a sunnier song by The Field, featuring Fuck Buttons on timpani. Ah, the post-rock comparisons are actually pretty endless. Do tha right thing, and snag your free MP3 copy of Panama’s “It’s Not Over (Dave DK Dub)” today, and revel in its sprawling digital downtempo glory.