Showing posts with label chillwave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chillwave. Show all posts

Sunday, January 20, 2019

video review: 'outer peace' by toro y moi

Ehh... I've had this one for a while, still not all that much of a fan. It's decent, but I'm not going to remember much of this.

Next up... let's get Future out of the way...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

album review: 'outer peace' by toro y moi

...I remember the last time I talked about chillwave, back in 2015 when I reviewed Neon Indian - and that's saying something because I'm getting the impression that whole genre designation is something music critics nowadays want to forget ever happened.

See, there's a phenomenon especially among music critics and writers to apply genre branding to sounds for quick categorization, especially if it was a trend on the rise. This seemed to hit its peak in the blog-and-Pitchfork dominated era of the late-2000s and very early 2010s, mostly to the indifference and distaste of the artists or indeed anyone besides music writers. And looking back on it now, it's hard to ignore how manufactured it felt - not an organic label by the artists, who had approached their gauzy blend of shoegaze, lo-fi synthpop, ambient, and psychedelia with a variety of different tones and styles, but a branding that soon led to a saturated market and a broad misunderstanding of how anyone was to approach it. And I want to use Toro y Moi - stagename for Chaz Bear - as an example against easy classification... mostly because while his initial tones might have started in that loose subgenre, he didn't stay there. A few albums in he was expanding into house music, by 2015 he was pulling on that jangling 80s indie rock sound, and he had always had a taste for funk, choppy hip-hop-esque samples and a crooning that owed a considerable debt to indie R&B. So yeah, Toro y Moi was really tough to categorize...

And man, I wish I liked it more. Again, like most genre-hopping bands with this pedigree there were a number of things that just did not work for me, and ironically they started with the opposite problem I had with Neon Indian, in that I liked the gummy, lo-fi chillwave touches in the production that felt more like accent texture than drowning the mix. But the further he stepped away from it, the less interesting the music became. Part of this was increasingly easy parallels to better acts, but with Toro y Moi's voice moving more to the forefront, the undercooked writing and odd feeling of petulance really started to wear on my patience, especially as the albums got longer with less momentum. Granted, when I heard this album was going even more synthetic and taking more steps towards funk I was intrigued, but I've had mixed luck with this brand of funk and I wasn't sure the trappings of chillwave are what I needed to make it work, but what the hell: how is Outer Peace?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

video review: 'vega intl. night school' by neon indian

So, not too big on chillwave, but this was pretty solid, and I'm finding it's grown on me with every listen.

Next up... okay, Carrie Underwood next. Stay tuned!

album review: 'vega intl. night school' by neon indian

So remember chillwave? Remember when that was a thing, a trend that seemed to spring partially from the warped edges of gleaming early 80s synthpop and the gummy, lo-fi production of Ariel Pink? Remember how it was a big thing in the indie scene for seemingly a year or two before evaporating in the hot sun for the next big trend?

Because I certainly don't. Now part of this was just time and place - I was listening to very different music in and around the latter half of the 2000s, and chillwave was one of those nebulously defined genres that completely passed me by, there and gone and I had never cared. But going back to listen through it now, I'm a little baffled why there was so much hype in the first place - yeah, the lo-fi eclecticism of the synthpop was a nifty trick, but many of the synth textures didn't really stick with me or blend into particularly solid wholes. it wasn't that it was bad - although there was a fair amount of mediocre stuff around the edges of the genre that was coasting on the fad - but again, Ariel Pink was already making similar music and doing it with more cohesion both in melodies, production, and lyrics.

That said, I do give Neon Indian a certain amount of credit for at least trying to bring a loose sense of humour and fun to a genre that often proved oddly humourless. The main project of frontman Alan Palomo, his debut record in 2009 got a lot of critical acclaim and buzz - so much so that it catapulted him into the festival circuit where he did surprisingly well for being loose, catchy, occasionally funny, and genuinely fun. So it wasn't surprising that as the backlash towards chillwave came in force, Palomo worked to double down on the bigger, buzzier, thicker sounds - even teaming up with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann to overcompress and add more density to the mix. And yeah, the melodic core was still there and some of the quirkier elements did creep through, but I was among many who felt it was a slightly less satisfying effort, even though I never found much chillwave to be all that exhilarating to begin with.

So when I heard that Palomo was looking to bring in more elements of disco and future funk for his upcoming third album, adapted from the VEGA sideproject, I was interested at least, especially considering the critical acclaim started pouring back in. Did it pay off?