Music Reviews
Initiation Tape: Isle of Avalon Edition

New Dreams Ltd. Initiation Tape: Isle of Avalon Edition

(self-released) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

"Snow falls in a poem, but it is not really falling." - Timothy Morton

Up, up into it, to a, to a temple, to a temple of, to a temple of TVs, a wall of TVs in a temple, a pyramid, a fake pyramid, a plaza, a real plaza, a plaza of stores, of stores selling electronic merchandise, and hair products, and CDs, and clothes, and candy, and DVDs, and toys, and vaporwave music - an extraordinary internet phenomenon that engages in archival practices that has a large liking to taking any old melody from any old song from the 80s, and then slowing it down so that the singer sounds like an emotional Snorlax waxing philosophical in an extreme moment of dramatic intensity. Vapor, wave, vaporwave. Beach A is a real beach. Beach B is a fake beach. Plaza drone. Jamming. Hits from the '80s and '90s. Some like to call this musical method an "eccojam," a term coined by Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, who released Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 in 2010 underneath his Chuck Persons alter-ego. "Anyone can do it," Lopatin says in a Red Bull Music Academy interview from 2011, all you need to do is add some echo to the vocal, slow its speed (with the touch of the nob) and loop it to your liking. All of the complexities of the music, including the singer's ability to sing, the musicians who played on the record, and how, when, and why they recorded the original piece, are tossed out, leaving us with three commands. Sample, Slow Down, Loop.

Less best. No. Naught best. Best worse. No. Not best worse. Naught not best worse. Less best worse. No. Least. Least best worst. Least never to be naught. Never to be naught be brought. Never by naught be nulled. Unnullable least. Say that best worst. With lessening words say least best worst. For want of worse worst.

(In this era of food scientists, we also have musical archivists.)

In fact, by enlarging and elongating the vocals, think of pork fat drizzled on fried chicken topped with gravy. Now think of the sanitary conditions of a McDonald's. Now think of the sanitary conditions of your local mall. Think of the air particles, of their invisibility, of the invisibility of invisibility.

There are seventeen songs on Initiation Tape: Isle of Avalon Edition. Seventeen melodies, MIDI-heavy. The '80s haven't ended. That means a certain strand of fashion hasn't ended, and a certain amount of technology, and a certain type of sublime: the lure of the technological sublime, still some years away. Starry landscapes haunted by synthesizers and mad scientists, half of the American workforce managing information for a living. Do diabetics dream of computerized pancreases controlling their levels of insulin?

Making complex music is becoming easier. (Anything goes on the computer screen, anything goes at the microwave.) There's an odd softness to this work; it's about appearances, about lyrical gloom, goth forests, neon streetlights, New Age bliss and New World ambition, videogame ontology, the philosophy of language, a sunny weekday alone in a suburban house with a soap opera on and nothing to do. "To bring together is, in Greek sumballein. The work is a symbol" (Heidegger). Here the dominant symbol is not the music itself, but what the music says something other than itself: the fissuring of the very representation of melody, challenging the origins of the melodic itself. The emotional simplicity of these songs can induce vomit, but more so a string of questions, such as, Why are we so obsessed with surfaces, with love, with being in love, with the problems of love, with the stupidity of it all? Forget it. Zoom away half-way in echoed flight. Open the industrially processed food packed with preservatives and strange chemicals to make it look younger, and eat.