After discussing how very little music has impressed us this year, the UTM Editors made a pact to explore the Internet for albums that helped us rediscover our passion for music. Naturally, we gravitated towards Bandcamp because it’s an artist-friendly format that’s easy to navigate and gives a platform to some potentially sensational artists.
The albums we found impressed us so much, we simply had to give them, and all future albums we discover, a regular platform on UTM. Thus, Thank You Based Bandcamp was born. It’s a nod to Lil B and his dedication to releasing albums, and also a genuine appreciation of the Bandcamp format and albums within that gave us the impetus to write reviews again.
Without further ado, here are the amazing albums we found in our Thank You Based Bandcamp: Inaugural Exploration.
Air Tycoon – Fuck Everything, I’m God
Air Tycoon’s first release in December 2011 marked the day of the Best Album Title Ever and will never get replaced. Fuck Everything I’m God initially found its way into my iTunes library by appearing on a Facebook meme page, in an image entitled ‘Music for people who wear all black and are bad at talking to girls’.
It’s pretty embarrassing way to discover an album and I really didn’t have to tell the truth, but I feel that title is a pretty accurate description for FEIG, so fuck you. It’s Clams Casino if he’d spent his whole life in Salem, MA. It’s an adopted statement for young internet fiends confident in their Rick Owens-influenced sartorial choices that could probably enthuse about glitch music for an hour behind a computer screen, but completely freeze up when asked about the same thing IRL.
If witchy hip hop and social anxiety are both part of your #aesthetic, then cop this (after rethinking your painful, meaningless existence).
Troller – Graphic
Bandcamp is far from my music platform of choice, in fact, I’ve admittedly barely explored it and gotten my goddamm head around how discovery works. For my first wonder through Bandcamp I discovered both the fascinating (German rap, Bulgarian electronica) and the nauseating (an accidental click on some pop punk) but eventually I stumbled upon something that fully captivated my ears in the form of Trollers Graphic.
The Texan trio sounds somewhat like a Doldrums and Suuns had a child and then sent it off to hell. One intriguing aspect of Graphic is the fact that it manages to touch on usually incompatible genres, with are touches of synthpop, ambient and black metal all being brought together in hugely untamed fashion.
There’s also something decidedly anti-pop about their approach to synthpop, ‘Not Here’ has all the potential for friendliness, in it’s simple drum machine knocks, ethereal vocals from Amber Star-Goers and snaky synth melody, but it’s lo-fi production and ugly guitars gives it an unsettling edge. The record doesn’t spend its whole time spitting at you, however, as it contains a number of shorter instrumentals, the best being ‘The Body’ which combines playful chimes and distorted guitar snores for a more soothing moment.
Graphic is far from a pretty record, it chews up synthpop and spits into something nastier, darker and more cacophonous, essentially it’s a record that you could only find in the depths of Bandcamp.
Vanilla – Origin
Partly inspired by a trip to Japan and the ‘Samurai Champloo’ soundtrack (on which Nujabes worked), Origin is an album that humbly nods towards its influences. UK producer Vanilla is an obvious ‘shinnichi’ (Japanophile), but blending this passion with hip hop beats and funk/soul samples allowed for a unique take on a form of hip hop instrumental that has largely gone unnoticed as hi-hats and booming bass take precedent.
The beat on ‘Dreamcatcher’ surreptitiously seeps in behind twangs, twinkles and a leading woodwind instrument, leading to a climactic, quivering breakdown that can only be accurately represented visually by soaring falcons and cherry blossoms swaying in the gentle breeze. ‘Dreamcatcher’ is a microcosm of Origin – an album that is as emotive as it is relaxing.
Not only does Origin have the translucent funk/soul influences that provide the cushion for the beats to sit on, but it also manages to weave in some city pop/baroque pop feels, lending to the uniqueness that feels as though it could only come from one knowledgeable person that can blend these different styles into one completely relaxing album.
It’s a reminder to hip hop fans that we can sometimes take a seat, unwind and appreciate the more natural things in life, away from the henny and turnt shit.
Polar Inertia- Kinematic optics
Taking influence from the not so distant worlds of rolling techno and experimentalist ambient, highly regarded French duo Polar Inertia’s 2015 release Kinematic Optics is a conceptual, audial journey through a world ravaged by human reliance on the machine.
The first four tracks on the album are a freezing, ominous odyssey of slowly building, thumping techno. The albums ambient influence is inflected through expertly produced ambient breaks, pads layered upon pads to create crystalline, dreamy soundscapes through which the slowly skittering techno beats are channelled.
The first, techno-centric side of the EP slowly builds up toward the second part of the album’s whirring, ominous caverns of noise. seguing perfectly into two previously unreleased tracks, taken from the bands previously unreleased Can We See Well Enough To Move On. Can We See was recorded in May 2014 for the closing of the artist’s expo in Brussels, at the project space/gallery Abilene.
The Can We See side of the EP is a contrast to the energetic, sometimes fear inducing ambience of the first four tracks, contained within are two twenty minute pieces of a whirring, obscured plethora of meandering analogue noise. A droning, minimalist juxtaposition to the EP’s previous four tracks, the second half of Kinematic Optics somehow calls to mind Tangerine Dream, leaving a calming musical impression of a world without humanity.
If you like your techno darkly atmospheric, deep and rolling, give Kinematic Optics a listen.
VLS- give me your hardest drugs or give me death
Another incredible album title rounds off this TYBB; give me your hardest drugs or give me death is, unsurprisingly, a bit of a weird one. Black metal fusion hip hop is also a weird one, over the course of the last few years it’s become a lot more prominent, although sadly, more often than not, the Black Metal influence is purely aesthetic.
Random discovery VanderLindenSoul is a great example of the many fusion genres appearing from today’s cyberspace melting pot: Utilising cloud rap as the album’s starting point, VLS takes a cocktail of influences and runs with it.
From the 90’s sounding emo meets piercing black metal of the title track to the autotuned proto-hip hop of ‘many disguises completely change her appearance’, give me your hardest drugs is obfuscated absurdism given audial form, taking it’s influences and painting them black across a hugely varied and engrossing musical collage.
The black metal influence on the album is not entirely straightforward however, whilst many tracks do descend into straight up wall of guitar black metal-cloud rap-dub fusion, the idea runs much deeper. VLS organically creates a black metal impression without resorting to hyper distorted sound design, instead utilising subtly unsettling audio fx to create an unnerving, dissonant but ultimately beautiful soundscape.