This record is like driving through a city, all light and sound flying past. Much like all good IDM most of this record would fit perfectly set to anime edits. I think dismissing this as just more IDM would do it an injustice, as it’s obvious that a lot of skill went into these tracks, and none of this seems like it happened by chance.
Opening with catchy pads swelling, about a third of the way into the first track (Velo Break) you settle into this very concrete groove. The transitions throughout the record are clean, though occasionally abrupt they seem to cut directly through whatever was going on with surgical precision. Lots of rhythm games and weird vocalizations, synths mutter gibberish to you, and women are always telling you something you’re not quite allowed to hear (or I’m not, and fuck you for being able to hear better than me).
The opening of track 4, Ship Shape pt.1, is beautiful and weird. We’re transported into the urban sprawl filled with angry machines. Cold grey light fills this track, and cold synth lines that feel almost mournful. The baby noises are highly unsettling, and seem like the sounds of a polluted adult mind muttering and stumbling through this industrial zone devoid of humans.
In Limey dissonant synths open up to a catchy bass line that drags you into the street. I focus in on this synth line as it morphs and decays into the beautifully sad portion that follows. I’m like a crazy person finding patterns in the cracks in the pavement, all the randomness falls away and everything becomes spectacularly clear as the track progresses. Eventually it all makes sense, doesn’t it?
Track 8, Hheadmmer is just impeccable. Hyperactive drums under this very specific sounding tonal structure. I love lines like this because they feel so very absolutely themselves, as if they could be nothing else and you were blind to have not seen this before. It all breaks down only to rebuild as the track progresses and I want nothing more than that line to come back. I’m immediately given my wish, and so I shut the fuck up.
Tracks like 2, 5 and 7 really display Velum’s skill. Great mixing, breaks that are compelling with constant variation, abrupt but seamless transitions, and little sonic tweaks everywhere. Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 8 are where those skills come together into songs you want to hear over and over again. It feels like this comes from a happier IDM time when MTV was on television, Trump was some asshole you didn’t know or care about, and we were all younger and better looking. Some lady is trying to tell you about seeing the future, and it’s really just her telling us to stop aging and stay because the future sucks a bag of dicks.
The influence of vaporwave in the last track, Ship Shape pt.2, is evident. Velum Break has only adopted some of the A E S T H E T I C of vaporwave, and it has freed them to build in a larger sonic space as a result. 8 bit synths layering over mellowed tones, this track really draws you in, and is a great album closer. Especially since the ride you take on the way out is so sweet.
- Review: Velum Break – Bench Manoeuvres
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