Getting Lost on Bandcamp [Vol. 3]
The online music platform known as Bandcamp welcomes in hundreds of new music uploads daily. From the odd and unsettling, to the ethereal and mysterious, you are guaranteed to find some pretty interesting albums on the site. So today, I invite you to travel with me as we once again get lost within the deepest corners of Bandcamp and discover what strange and mystifying sounds await us.
Implemented Dreams by Replicating Patterns is truly haunting Signalwave, done right.
I always love to discuss the mystery of Signalwave projects, but once again just to sum it up if you’ve never heard of it, Signalwave is a subgenre of the larger Vaporwave genre that focuses on creating sound collages by piling together multiple sourced sample materials like old Japanese commercials to quick vocal sound bites from a track from any random decade. Some artists will loop one single piece of audio, at nauseum, and call it a track, while some will just pile on so many different kinds of sounds from all sorts of angles. You really never know what you’re going to get and that’s what makes getting lost in the hundreds and hundreds of these types of releases on Bandcamp so much fun.
There is certainly an uncanny or foreboding side of Signalwave that you’ll find out there, and it is done best with projects that sound so beautiful at the surface level, but that perfect amount of buzz, fuzz and VHS overlay gives the whole project an eerie undertone, like you’re being distracted with this beautiful, charming thing in one hand while the other hand is out of sight and possibly up to no good. Pair it with an album art that feels like you’re stuck in a skybox from Super Mario 64 for eternity, and boom you got a beautiful music release to dive into.
The album welcomes you into this “beautiful-but-not” concept right away with “Downloading Consciousness”, a magical and alluring loop repeated over and over for just about a minute and a half. The sense of purgatory with tracks like “Music processing”, loungey, smokey, waiting room sample flips just poured out to perfection right in the middle of the album.
There is always something so interesting when albums feel completely hollowed out, and Implemented Dreams feels like that constantly. There’s a beautiful thing to show of it all on the surface level of it, but the void that lies beneath it all makes you wish you could just jump into the picture of the album cover and possibly explore if there’s really anything there at all, or just some giant open field of nothingness. That’s another thing good signalwave projects do, they make you want to jump into the album cover and explore the out of bounds in whatever setting they managed to fit into the limiting squared image present on the Bandcamp page. Fans of analog horror and just things that make you feel like you’ve discovered an abandoned page on the internet, you’re going to love this.
2021’s Cutting Out My Shadow by Brooklyn based composer Conor C. Ellis is a dynamic sound experiment that starts off shrieking, twisting and sonically disturbing. It then contrasts itself by slowly meshing in subtle undertones of drone and ambient dizziness, these glowing pockets that add tranquility to the rather sharp and erratic microsounds flooding your eardrums throughout this 3-track fragmented sound melting pot.
With a run time of just over 10 minutes, a project like this one is more than you’ll ever need as it really feels like you are observing a thousand sounds at once at all times. Each sound in each track feels like an auditory fractal; these sounds feel so dense and texturized and it;s projects like Cutting Out My Shadow that tend to come to life before your very eyes, even though you can’t really see it. Polygons with thousands of surfaces generated in your mind, all simply sparked from these bouncy, multi-layered soundscapes.
Tracks 1 and 2, “He Ran Faster And Faster” and “Cutting Out My Shadow” and the 3rd and final track “transparent limb” pair complex yet straightforward microsounds that embody this eroded start-up menu screen to a 2000’s video game console. Imagine your gamecube was left in a pond for like 3 months but somehow still worked, this is how I imagine that startup screen to sound like.
The album art pairs perfectly with the sounds as well; as I mentioned, it feels like there are always thousands of smaller, microscopic sounds making up a larger sound as a whole, and the album art features hundreds of little streaks and dusty sparkles which all conjure up a hand reaching out.
If you’re into expansiveness in sound, projects that take multiple listens as you will discover new, deeper sounds everytime you return to it, don’t sleep on this one.
g h 0 s t is one of the true producers who captures the classic Vaporwave feeling; that era in the mid 2010’s where a simple 80’s soul or rnb flip was more than enough to keep the mood exciting. 失 恋 EP (translated to: Broken Heart EP) is no different, the release sees only more of those sample selections that are bright, nostalgic and full of color. A quick snack at 7 tracks only still packs that glimmering punch found in similar works in their discography like 呪文 (translated to: Incantation) which I actually had as my favorite Vaporwave release of 2021. If you were a fan of that one, you’re going to love this thing too, and pretty much anything else in the trashgh0st discography.
The g h 0 s t discography feels like a giant perfume section in a high-end luxury department store from the 90’s, all of the artwork shining through with this inescapable feeling of primetime fashion and corporate dinner parties. Each release sparkles like the shiny packaging of scents and make-up that line the store shelves, and 失 恋 EP fits perfectly within that aesthetic as well. I love the whole collection of sample flips on here, tracks like “on my mind” are everything we look for in a quick Vaporwave track. That perfect, catchy vocal hook and some erratic glitching at the end only to go into that super chill sax of the track “失恋 (translated to: Broken Heart) to put a beautiful bow on the EP and call it a day.
Traveling back to the start of the EP’s tracklist, tracks like “rose pedals” and “without you” feature the perfect amount of VHS fuzz dripping into your ears, splashy drums and jubilant pads and synths. Tracks like these and “absolutely dope” for example, showcase the romanticized view of the 80’s we all tend to want to experience these days in the modern era, the simple bliss of wanting that luxury lifestyle and nothing else, fed to us through commercials and magazines.
失 恋 EP came out in the Summer of 2022, with 距離 (translated to: Distance) following in March of 2023. I always hope to see new g h 0 s t material soon, the artist has consistently released projects yearly at this point and their work is always welcomed with open arms.
Imagine if a bunch of Pikmin got together in the studio and said “Ok, lets make an experimental ambient album” … that is what we have here.
My goodness, I think it’s impossible to not find yourself falling into these pockets of nature ambience throughout the year when it comes to what you find yourself listening to; I know there are times throughout like Winter especially when I’ll be working from home or just cleaning the house and for days on end I will listen to nothing but stuff like this. FLOWER BLOOM, Solarpunk: A Possible Future, heck give me even the Wii Weather Channel 10 hour mix and I will be the happiest man on the planet earth for real.
Anyways, Portland Oregon’s Patricia Wolf is a musician, sound designer, and DJ who uses electronics, voice, and field recordings to produce non-linear compositions that draw listeners to a hypnotic inner world. Her use of melody and repetition manipulate the listeners' perception of time, conjuring vivid textures, and atmospheres. That is ripped directly from Patricia’s Bandcamp bio because that is just a perfect explanation of what we have here on See-Through.
This album plays with a variety of subtle and wispy soundscapes that sort of make you envision the album to be some breathing, sun-light craving, living organism found deep within the woods on a hot Summer day. Tracks like “Under A Glass Bell” glow and flicker as the synths and shining keys seem to grow from the ground and root itself deep within your ears. Tracks like
“Recalibration” are exactly what the title portrays, a sharp almost piercing sound from distant space rewiring the worries and stresses you have nestled within your brain. The album is made to represent a kind of rebirth, Wolf explaining the album creation with “After a long period of grief, I had been hoping to find my way to a place of lightness, peace, playfulness, curiosity, and sensuality again. What I was surprised and pleased to find, is that for the most part, I had.”
The album was created in a short time crunch, as she was preparing for a broadcast on an online radio platform back in 2021 and wanted to have all new material for the event... They do say pressure makes diamonds.
The entire album is a spotlight on Wolf’s thoughts and feelings at the time, claiming that experiencing loss and isolation is what drove a handful of songs on here. The Track “Psychic Sweeping” and its weeping acoustic guitar seems lost and erratic throughout it’s 74-second run time, but it says so much in such a short time. The guitar cries and echoes, seemingly stuck down in a hole as you listen from above, with no ladder to rescue it.
If you are a fan of nature, getting lost in a field, or maybe feeling a bit stuck in your life, put See-Through on the menu and see what it could do for you. It’s so pretty and dreamy, tracks don’t overflow our ears with too many sounds as you can find in a lot of other ambient or sound terrain projects, here it just works and I’ll be throwing this one on quite a bit as the weather gets colder.
Next, let’s take a listen to one of my favorite Slushwave producers in the game: Days of Blue.
For those who don’t know, Slushwave is a subgenre of Vaporwave, where specifically, producers use a variety of techniques to create washy, hazy and lethargic melodies through stretched out synths and other sources of sample material. Days of Blue, and his album also titled Days of Blue, is some of the best Slushwave out there.
Released in April of 2021, this is the debut album from the once California now New York based producer, and what a debut this was. Days of Blue is a relatively new producer in the Slushwave subgenre, but has taken the scene by storm with releases like this one.
The almost 7 track opening track “Tears from a Cloud” is simply magical. Slushy piano keys play on top of airy undertones and to be honest, this track could last forever and I’d be completely okay with that. This is another one of the countless Slushwave albums that just replicate the scenery in the album art so well; it feels as if I’m some overworked desktop job employee for some gigantic financial company in a never ending city, working some overtime and just looking out the giant windows into the washed out night skies of the world.
If you love those longer, stretched out Slushwave tracks do not worry because “Tears from a Cloud” is not the only one on here. “Haze” and “A New Day” are both over 8 minutes long, both trembling with emotional pads, nature soundscapes, and once again just gorgeous piano work that becomes a mainstay on this album as a whole.
The Days of Blue project began as a conceptualization near the end of Summer 2020 amidst the wildfires that ravaged the producers home state of California. They recall the lack of blue sky, which inspired the name of the project and the idea for the album. Days of Blue experimented with a limited array of sounds that eventually brought about the completed project: an atmospheric journey through a familiar city along with a yearning to reach a better place.
The album was also released by Rei Records on this beautiful cassette tape which Days of Blue gave to me at one of the monthly DJ shows I was hosting throughout this past Summer in New York City. The producer is one of the nicest dudes out there and is continuing to make a big splash in the scene with live performances as well. I am so excited to see where Days of Blue goes next with their great taste for lush sounding Slushwave.
The skies may not always be clear but a blue sky always emerges from the haze.
A beautiful combination of dark Jazz that can feel tranquil at moments, and strained at others, Disappeared is a poorly lit walk through a dangerous alleyway late at night. A big city could feel lonely too, and there’s a nature to this project that exaggerates those ironic feelings of solitude in a city filled with millions of people. I picture tracks like “Tumble Through” and “Internal Dialogue Blues” to plague the background of a super rich person alone in their penthouse apartment hovering over Manhattan on a cold, rainy night. A beautiful living space with floor to ceiling windows, extravagant furniture, and a beautiful personal bar in the corner yet you’ve never felt so alone. There’s a sweeping sadness brought about by the added synth layers in tracks like “Hold Solitude”, and those keys drenched in reverb further hammer home that draining atmosphere of a person who has lost their place in the constant grind of the world. I love the super crisp and lush instrumentals at times that sit over vinyl crackle, and we all know how played out throwing a vinyl crackle sound effect could be in other music works, but here it feels like a nostalgic memory trying to breakthrough the cut-throat world of sad, almost depressive, face jazz instrumentals like tired saxophones just trying to do their fill to pay the bills.
Everything on here was produced by one dude, Ian Ferguson, who goes by the name The Sarto Klyn V. Disappeared is intensely tranquil at times and battles with ominous undertones. Also check out Ferguson’s Hide EP as well if you like these sounds, another project along with many others in the Satro Klyn V discography that do such a great job at playing with ominous, empty open spaces and jazz. Great listening, even if it could be a bit unsettling at times.
Barbershop Simulator™ by slowerpace 音楽 (translated to slowerpace music) is a go-to, perfect platter of barber beats for anyone looking to transcend into another world, a world set permanently at night time where you run your very own, dimly lit barber shop located in the depths of the city. Chill, jazzy hip-hop flooded with flutes, calming synths and weathered horns that sound like they’re just waking up in the morning, this 13 track collection of barber beats is the ultimate relaxation, and a piece that I’ve been listening to quite frequently over the past year.
You know me on this channel, I love talking about albums that take you to another setting entirely, something with a story or theme or narrative that elevates the sound beyond the sound itself, and this is exactly it. Barber Beats have an amazing ability to bring a like early 2000’s video game home menu screen feel without just being the stereotypical drum and bass, super y2k vibe that we always think of when going back to those OG menu screens. Projects like Barbershop Simulator™ feel modern yet vintage, it doesn’t get classier than tracks like “staff meeting” for example. The drums are so washy and liquidy, the piano is eroded, and those bongos or whatever drums you got hustling in the background feels ambitious at all time, full of body all taken home by those subtle horns once again.
Tracks like “special client” bring more of a heavy, distorted flow to the album which doesn’t go too far from that old-school, yet modern, vibe with the use of more computery-sounding synths. Following this “vacation mode on” comes in which is one of my favorites on the album, returning right back to this calm and resort-like background tune that is so shiny and beautiful sounding as the piano and horns talk to each other in a way so lush and fun.
And look at this artwork, we got a Sega Genesis box art feel to go perfectly with a cast of characters and scenarios that may portray the most exciting barbershop imaginable. I love it all though, barber beats always have this ability to provide simple, calm and relaxing background tunes to your day-to-day life, but most of them seem to have just really aesthetically pleasing artwork and colors that just work wonderfully together, where here I really love that we are presented this new and exciting world that these beats can fully find a home in.
If you’re a Barber Beats fan and haven’t given this thing a listen yet this year, I highly recommend you do. While most may see the project as just another Barber Beats work thrown into the internet, the blend of this barbershop tycoon game to me makes everything come alive that much more and stick out. Happy listening, and don’t forget a hot towel after every haircut given.