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.
This jam came out two years ago. Considering our penchant for minimalism, you would have thought we would have posted it before, but nope. That is an error we now intend to remedy. Despite the myriad club, house, ambient, and IDM artists out there creating simple build-and-release-based loops, very rarely does one stumble upon an artist or tune that creates a distinctly memorable moment with all of the subtlety that one would expect out of that brand of electronic music. With Moomin’s “You”, a warm, gentle desperation is created, built, and sustained over the course of nearly seven minutes with nothing but ambling rhythm synth loops, four-on-the-floor deep house beats, and a persistent digital whine. That is literally the entirety of the track, but you have to hear it to believe it. Named for the fairy tale characters featured in Swedish-Finn artist Tove Jansson’s children’s books, Berlin’s Moomin manages to tenderly captivate while remaining perfectly energetic and danceable without getting boring at all (at least, in our opinion). Along with greats like The Field and The Sight Below, what makes his minimalistic electronic music so impressive is that so much can be built from so little, and with 2011’s “You”, Moomin succeeds. So, despite the age of this song, do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download after the jump. Afterwards, you can purchase The Story About You via Amazon, iTunes, or from Smallville Records.
AMDiscs is a bedroom record label known (along with Beer on the Rug and Fortune 500) for its expanding portfolio of artists and releases in the vaporwave vein. Featured on AMDiscs’ 2013 compilation, this particular jam by Saint Pepsi is of course no exception to that generalization. Saint Pepsi seems to be the new flavor of the month, especially among followers of that incredibly weird but incredibly chill sounding microgenre of experimental electronic music. “Balancing Towers” is essentially just chopped and screwed early 80’s synth-funk, but the effect on the subconscious that this increasingly popular slice of VHS-wave has is definitely noteworthy. Where witch house once turned culture on its head with its chopped and screwed covers of pop hits, the vaporwave vibe of artists like Miami Vice and Vektroid crafts a particularly sterile retro-futuristic vision. With “Balancing Towers”, Saint Pepsi simultaneously reminds us of the duality of high class living with vintage bassline, glittering electric piano, and soulful musing. Despite the nostalgic smell of success present in the slow jam, one is unable to shake the sneaking feeling that’s all just a pixelated house of cards, waiting to crash like a cocaine-fueled stock market bought and sold exclusively by labor saving devices. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of Saint Pepsi’s smooth retro track “Balancing Towers”. Afterwards, check out the rest of his repertoire, or definitely check out AMDiscs’ 2013 playlist for more similar songs.
The music of Miami Vice perfectly encapsulates that smooth 80’s vibe that we know and love, reserved only for the upper echelon of society. While he’ll never be able to top Jan Hammer’s original compositions for the titular TV series, the vaporwave artist will nonetheless regale us into infinity with his retro DOS-based re-imaginings of that golden age. “Yacht”, our favorite track from newly released Smooth Nights, ambles along haphazardly, like a fun drunk. Reminiscent of an 18 Carat Affair vignette, it’s akin to a really shitty ghettoblaster recording of that snapshot moment in your favorite tune that really gets your heart pumping. The pastel-colored retro synth tracks trip all over the bassline and reverb-soaked percussion in what amounts to the “ringtone worthy” section of some lost one-hit wonder. Miami Vice manages in the space of only a minute-and-a-half to remind us with “Yacht” what we dearly miss about the garish elitist capitalistic excess of the decade to end all decades. Do tha right thing, and grab a free download of Miami Vice’s Smooth Nights right this second, at least to have “Yacht” available at your beck and call for that next house party. We also highly recommend his previous release, Culture Island, if you like that airless, perfectly benign corporatist tone.
Capo Blanco kicks fucking ass. Our favorite Russian VHS-waver brings energy and sass to the table with every single last little thing that he releases. The slow tempo and sparse analog synth sections in February’s “O’Love” are a match made in heaven with the peaking reverb-soaked percussion and the retro bassline. This tune is a wordless concentration on the core makeup of those funk, boogie, and soul jams of times past; a chopped and screwed italo-disco track, if you will. Come for the vintage electric kickdrumming, and stay for the warped atmospheric synth tracks towards the ambient midsection. We truly believe that Aidar Salihoff (Capo Blanco) is one of the best artists in this subgenre, and we hope that he never stops making music. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of “O’Love”, by Capo Blanco, and soak in the sweet summer vibez today.
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.
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.
Record label Astro Nautico just released a sprawling free mix called Atlantics Vol. 3, featuring a brand new Jacob 2-2 single, along with some other names that we recognize. While supposedly not as ambitious of Vol. 2, there are thirty-two free jams available for the taking over at Astro Nautico’s Bandcamp right now. Considering how legit this new Jacob 2-2 single sounds, it just might be high time for a dizzownload. “Videolympics”, while cluttered with a small choir of synth noises, immediately startles the listener with its smooth hi-fi clarity. Akin to the sounds coming from that dedicated movement of crystal clear funk, boogie, and soul music, the tune is mixed well and has a very metropolitan tone to it. Despite the 8-bit arcade sounds and the Tron-esque bassline, “Videolympics” sounds almost like overly ambitious corporate mood music, like birth and death in the digital age. What really makes this track a winner is that neon shorts-wearing bright eyed 80’s whiz kid vibe that’s a part of every Jacob 2-2 song, but with a crisp, clean bite to it that goes down ever so smoothly. Pour yourself some champagne, play a couple rounds of Galaga, and grab a free MP3 download of Jacob 2-2’s “Videolympics” today. Afterwards, check outAtlantics Vol. 3, and consider spending some cash on Jacob 2-2’s previous releases. We’ll personally stand behind his Cabazon EP.
Midnight Runners, our favorite Asian boogie duo, just dropped this sassy new single not ten hours ago via their Soundcloud page. Sporting that phat retro bassline and those italo-disco synth tracks you know and love, “Keep On” is an incurably optimistic synthwave anthem. Despite its pensive half-tempo pacing, this sunny uptown jam really keeps on, with its soulful vocal looping and crisp vintage percussion. Expect no less than a booty bouncin’, bitch bangin’ time with Midnight Runners’ latest single “Keep On”. If you’re a fan of Capo Blanco, Sloslylove, or Spinoff, grab a free MP3 download of the tune after the jump, and be sure to make their Overdive EP your next calculated purchase. This is high class shit, y’all.
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.