Words: Iain (Ghost Signs / Transpacifica)
Modern music production is akin to magic, it’s all a trick to fool us into thinking something that didn’t take place did. These musicians were playing at the save time, this guitar solo or vocal line was recorded in one take and isn’t a combination of all the best bits from 10 different recordings, this snare drum isn’t 3 layered samples and some white noise. These are the things we know are happening, but we allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief for long enough to hear the music as a whole, but they’re there if we look for them. But sometimes an artist is so good that even though we know there’s moves and gimmicks and tricks happening, no matter how hard we try to look for them, we just can’t see them.
Portland, Oregon musician qualchan. is one such artist and his latest release, The End Of All Seasons on Strategic Tape Reserve, is a shining example of this. Over the course of the 25 tracks you get the feeling of fast forwarding through an 80s store cassette, listening for a moment before hitting the ffwd button again and moving on to the next. The loops and snippets of hazy, woozy synths and slowed down beats perfectly captures the feelings of sleep walking through the streets or a mall, the sharp edges medicated smooth, hypnotically looping until you reach the next location and its sounds fade into view.
Vaporwave at its base is known for the cliché of taking 80s music and slowing it down with added reverb, and if you told me that was all that was happening here, that this was simply a very well selected collection of long lost 80’s tunes, I’d have to believe you, because although I know there’s a lot of slight of hand and deception happening here, qualchan. is so good at pulling them off, I sure as hell can’t see them happening right in front of me and in the end, isn’t that what we want from music, to be able to suspend our cynicism and disbelief for just a moment and sit back and believe in magic?
qualchan. – the end of all seasons. is available from Strategic Tape Reserve