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By Alexa Carson

Getting Lost on Bandcamp

By: Pad Chennington 

Founded in 2008, Bandcamp and its seemingly never ending universe of sounds have become a home for thousands of passionate artists, labels, and fans across the internet to upload, and discover, new music. You are pretty much guaranteed to find whatever you’re in the mood for there, from the fresh and euphoric, to the odd and abandoned, releases that feel like you’re the first person ever in the world to stumble across them. And today, you and I are going to venture through Bandcamp and explore a couple of albums that lay waiting for us in the abyss.

Let’s start this off with the bold and imposing The Happiness Cage.
Released on March 29th, 2019, The Happiness Cage is a 20 track collaborative skyscraper of experimental sound art from a handful of unique artists. This coming as the debut release of the German based Engram Recordings is really a big way to kick off a label, this compilation really has it all from textured drone and harsh noise sweeps to quirky synthesizer play and even some minimalistic piano jazz, this thing is a feast and when I say this project has something for everyone, it really does. It feels like an audio museum with dozens of different exhibits to venture through, especially with that black and white photo used for the compilation artwork as well.
An intimidating tracklist filled with interesting title names, it’s efforts like The Happiness Cage that really show you what Bandcamp is all about, different minds and creators coming together on one single page to create an already engaging experience just from how it’s all laid out. Tracks like “Konnektiv Hellscaep” are crammed with what feels like hundreds of different sounds, this hypersensitive 2 and a half minute trip through a UFO abduction. Artists like SOFTKILL, Philosophers of Darkness and Obskyr bringing in that abrasive energy towards the
latter half of the compilation as the ultimate palette cleanser, all only to end with the minimal and quaint “You think I ain’t worth a sauce, but I feel like a million islands”, a track that makes it feel like you just woke up from a fever dream and now you’re back in a fancy hotel in the 1950’s.
With a now pretty big catalog to venture through, I know I’m going to be returning to Engram Recordings to see what else awaits me. Head yourself on down to The Happiness Cage for a trip larger than life itself.
FLORAナチュラル (translated to “FLORA Natural”) is a project by the Brazilian producer ECCO 深い夢 (translated to “ECCO Deep Dream”), and their 2020 project FLOWER BLOOM is as crisp, refreshing, and glistening as they come.
A 6-track collection that invites magical, sweeping drones and mind-massaging stretches of ambient soundwork, FLOWER BLOOM was the first of a 3 part series known as the Biosphere Trilogy, consisting of: FLOWER BLOOM, FLORA ODYSSEY, and FOREST TEMPLE.
For those looking for a peaceful, yet incredibly grand and animated, adventure through a jungle or forest, FLOWER BLOOM is the perfect expedition for you to travel on. Tracks like “SATURN GARDEN” and “WET AURA” are so vivacious and dynamic, sweeps presented over a delicate backdrop of trickling water and chipper birds. The jumpy finale track “TROPICUS [LAST SUMMER]” is the perfect send-off for FLOWER BLOOM, a fun and bouncy track that seemingly strolls you right into the next release in the series. Having 2 more releases in the series is a great plus too, especially since this first installment only has 6 songs in total, none crossing over the 4-minute mark.
Finding its home on the incredible ATMOTM label, the project was also released on this beautiful limited edition transparent green cassette. The cassette included a holographic obi-strip, and also includes the entire trilogy all on one tape as well. This, of course, is long sold out, along with all of the future cassettes produced to house this beautiful 3-part series, but luckily you can still enjoy the energies of nature digitally over at the ATMOTM Bandcamp page.
Recorded right at the start of the pandemic from March 2020 to May 2020, Predicament Recordings Volume I 3.2020-5.2020 by the Illinois based Fossil Aerosol Mining Project is an assortment of field recordings and recycled instruments all coming together to share the feelings of isolation through sound.
The Fossil Aerosol Mining Project goes all the way back to the 1980’s, according to their personal website, identifying themselves as a “loose-knit group of artists and collectors interested in exploring and gathering the damaged remains of late 20th century popular culture”.
These recordings certainly capture the secluded feelings of the early days of the pandemic, I know for me I was actually just about to start a new job at the time and before I could even go in for my first day at the office, we were destined to work remotely from home. I remember leaving Manhattan the Friday before everything started shutting down and it just felt like entire buildings
were being left to fend for themselves, their life source of people leaving and their windows going dark as offices were going to be empty for who knew how long it was going to be.... A really interesting couple of days back in March of 2020 to look back on, and this release really brings back those weird feelings.
Tracks like “CompuNoiice” buzz through your ears, the crackle and pop of deconstructed audio fuzz for almost 12 minutes long. You would think something like this would get annoying but there really is this glowing vitality that moves the track pleasantly through your ears, the album art along with the tracks themselves have me picturing this abandoned junkyard or construction site on a scorching hot summer day, a ghost town of equipment and machinery left to erode in the sun. The bending of these metallic sounds are lush and gorgeous, for as sharp as they cansound sometimes. Track 2, “Slowly Reassembling” feels like a muted down saw gnawing away at a piece of metal, but it’s all coated in such a way that makes the sound setting feel humid (if that makes sense?), this murky heat somehow dampening the harsh sounds. The finale track “End Times Predicament” is an almost 18-minute long conversation between drones and echoing, distant vocal loops.
Predicament Recordings Volume I 3.2020-5.2020 is as relaxing as it is jolting, a savory balance of harsher sounds dampened by softer tones. Add in a couple of clicks, pops, and distorted vocal bites and you got yourself a fun project to zone out to on a night alone.
Based out of Kuwait, the international collective known as Kalibri+ has a pretty diverse discography spanning over a couple of different genres. However, their Midnight compilation project, specifically Midnight II for me, has to be one of my favorite releases on their Bandcamp page.
With only about a dozen or so supporters, the project went relatively unknown, which is really unfortunate because this is some great, late night driving music that I think almost anyone would absolutely vibe with. 2020’s Midnight II is the follow up to the Midnight compilation which was released back in 2017.
I grew up a big fan of the Midnight Club video game series, and some of my favorite memories from those games was just cruising around late at night in LA, Paris, or Tokyo, and just switching through the amazing soundtrack those games had. Some of my favorite tracks in there were those late night, atmospheric trance or techno tracks, and this compilation project just reminds me of those games so much.
And with summer coming up, what better vibe to go with than tracks like “Street Labyrinth”, that liquidy kick partnered up with emotional vocals and light pads and synths. The bright and shiny “Lush” by Ch4ins4w is alive and in your face, like you're strolling through neon-illuminated streets in the latest hours of the night. Bells, chimes and warm synths for an extremely laid back vibe.
Although pretty short at only 4 tracks, the project feels like one really long song and is a great little snack to have in your musical arsenal if you’re traveling somewhere at night.
“Stemming from a passion for fast cars and the bumping underground club culture, Midnight II is the soundtrack for the freeway.” -Kalibri+
3) 天気予報 - きょうの天気 (Asutenki - Today’s Forecast)
The mysterious and unknown 天気予報 (pronounced as “Asutenki”) is an artist I can never get enough of, there is such an enchanting aura surrounding the 天気予報 bandcamp whenever you stop on by; a Bandcamp page filled with nothing but old Japanese weather channel screenshots. There is something so beautiful and magical about the choices of weather channel stills 天気予報 picks for their project, and if you’ve been at my Youtube channel before, you know I always love visiting and exploring anything this artist puts out.
きょうの天気 (translated to “Today’s Forecast”) is the release I’d like to talk about today; 5 extremely delicate and somber tracks that rework some great samples into some good ol’, dusty, fuzzy Signalwave goodness.
If Midnight II is perfect for the latest of nights, let きょうの天気 wake you up in the earliest of mornings. This is one of those projects that pair perfect for those days you have every once in a blue moon where you somehow decide to be responsible for once and get to sleep really early the night before, so you wake up the next morning and you’re just chillin’ there for those first couple of minutes with a cup of coffee soaking up this strange, weird time of the day you’re never usually up at.
That opening track “Fushigi” is gorgeous; windy chimes and patient drums walk you through this cloudy day of pretty, slowed down horns. Tracks like “Beyond your Expectation” get a bit more lively and bright, as if the sun is finally beginning to shine through on your morning. And that finale track, “Tomorrow’s Environment”, brings きょうの天気 full circle and warps you right back to the moods on that intro track.
The 天気予報 discography is always a goldmine to venture through, and I get lost in it all the time. Since I can’t understand Japanese and I always forget which songs go to which releases, 天気予報 has always been this timeless artist for me because I constantly feel like I’m listening to something new every time.
So, next time you’re up really early in the morning, head on down to きょうの天気, or any 天気予報 release really, and get lost in the forgotten weather broadcasts of a time long ago.
Verity Larsen’s So Hard I’ll See Stars was a project recommended to me by one of the members in the Club Chennington Discord server, they described the project as a “beautiful lofi EP with sound collage elements” and let me tell you, beautiful is an understatement.
Verity Larsen creates this shimmering world of lofi, ambient wanderlust. That first track loading up is a jumbled mess, only to come out of its shell and emerge with these colorful bursts of scattering notes floating through this sea of distorted fuzz. Every track works perfectly into one another, they all feel like fine and graceful balls of light like floating over a lake. A mix of field recordings, fragile vocals, breezy synth keys and the perfect pinch of distortion all boil up to create the perfectly balanced sound collage. “neverstop” may be my favorite track of the bunch, and probably the most broken track of So Hard I’ll See Stars as well. I love the dizzying back and forth between the harsh buzzing and the vocals, this fuzzy but comforting reminder that someone will always be there for you. And the last two minutes or so of that track is just beautifully haunting, it sounds like the end of some old twilight zone episode as the camera pans up from the scene into the dead of the night. I love it so much.
With 3 other releases to check out on their Bandcamp page, Verity Larsen provides a really pretty palette of sounds that are perfect for a walk at sundown.
You know if you hangin with me, we gotta get lost in some gritty, hearty, heavy good ol’classic Vaporwave.
M A S K S by the artist 幽霊, T O G E T H E R! (translated to “Ghost, T O G E T H E R!”), has got to be one of the most fun Vaporwave albums, at least for me personally, and to this day I do not know how it has such little attention.
Released back in 2015, M A S K S provides that perfect classic Vaporwave package: simple, groovy, catchy sample selections presented right in your face and just super splashy. “52nd ST” is a great chop, containing a sample flip you’ve probably heard before if you’ve listened to a number of Vaporwave classics back in the day (You’ll find the same sample on 猫 シ Corp.’s HIRAETH for example). “Tuxedo” is a clunky, horn-filled beat filled with some fun vocal chops, and “RIGHT PLACE” is straight up one of my favorite sample flips of all-time, I even included it in my top Top 100 Vaporwave Songs of All-Time video.
All of Upper Astral Records, the label that holds M A S K S, has some really great stuff to dig through... M A S K S though is a really special one. There’s nothing spectacular about it in a technical sense but it’s just that throwback to what I really love when discovering old school Vaporwave releases: easy, straightforward and mostly uncomplicated sample flips that warp you right to a hot summer day on the beach. And straight up, I don’t think nothing can beat that.
Much love, ur boi, Pad Chennington.
Also known as "Youtube's Vaporwave Valedictorian", Pad Chennington is a content creator who has created a substantial following on YouTube for his videos discussing all things Vaporwave. Starting in the Fall of 2017, Pad's videos range from reviews to breakdowns, interviews to unboxings, and much more, always revolving around odd and interesting music genres found throughout the internet. Pad has also recently released an album in February titled "CONTRAST" that is available as a free download via the My Pet Flamingo label.