‘Lil Music Reviews: Vulcano Baby, osno1, NAKAV, la pumpkin
Vulcano Baby – Junk Drawer Vol.1 (oldies)
Vulcano Baby caught my attention when “7am” dropped 11 months ago. That song felt like waking up way too early after getting not nearly enough sleep. Basically the feeling of a finals week filled with papers, projects and exams. The headiness of the track while running low on sleep feels kind of like caffeine though.
‘Junk Drawer Vol. 1 (oldies)’ seems to be the first installment of unreleased Vulcano Baby tracks. “Sinkgazingtransmission” has is filled with drippy underwater sounds that surface and inhale as these enveloping future bass chords lay down. A fast LFO lead comes in and then oscillates out like a straw at the bottom of an empty soft drink.
“Habit” has a more woke sound. It’s less foggy and has less effects. The bobbing motion of the track reminds me of Boards of Canada’s last album. “Brainfreeze” is my favorite song on the compilation. It has the vibe that “7am” had, vocals and all, but less intoxicating. Instead its really pure and innocent sounding. I found the bit from 1:42 onward to be really emotional, like nostalgia was flashing before my eyes, but I was being brought back into the present day.
“Take Off” was the single off of this track compilation that included a music video on Vulcano Baby’s facebook. It’s a pretty chill song. I think that the last song on here, “A Simple Suffering,” might be dedicated to Grib, based on the track art. By the way, every song on ‘Junk Drawer Vol. 1 (oldies)’ comes with individual track art. Grib, for those unfamiliar, is the boyfriend of Zebsoren Turner. They are getting married on June 23.
osno1 – hello kitty skates to the fucking CEMETARY
So, this album I don’t really have much introduction for it other than I heard “gone with a knife; given all wrong” after my buddy posted it on Facebook a few months back. “ditch a body in the laundry” features Dylan Brady, an autotune trap vocalist who collaborates with Nok from the Future and Night Lovell.
It has a lot of ambient noise with some 808s and acoustic guitar before a phone beeping and high pitched autotune Brady takes over the mix. An 808 with a long decay and fast release backs up Brady with hi-hat piano rolls and some snare. Osno1 then starts to sing in a very sincere/creepy pitched up vocal that sounds somewhere between SOPHIE and Carly Rae Jepsen. The instrumental distorts and bleeds harsh noise until the last title lyric refrain before returning to the ambient noise and acoustic guitar.
The ambiance makes for a perfect transition to “gone with a knife; given all wrong.” The muffled guitar from the previous track lays a foundation melody for perfectly shrill guitar to roll off of. The vocal hook is deeply modulated, making it irresistible on the first listen. The muffled guitar cuts out and with only ambient noise we get to hear the vocal hook with any processing (which sends chills through me). Lastly, we hear it pitched an octave up with a touch of autotune and all instrumental parts present. A broken piano interludes midway through the outro and the trebly guitar does its thing.
The broken piano carries over into “nothing im just hanging out,” with fast vibrato and the damp guitar melody of the previous track. It continues to improvise over the ambient noise until the 2:50 mark, an unprocessed piano starts to play a slow somber, pondering melody. Then “cemetary 4” happens. This song is the climax of the album I already know. The hi hat piano rolls are back but there are bass tones comes from anywhere but a droning piano chord. That moves up and down like a see-saw. A low fidelty melody overlays before the distortion is kicked in place and feedbacks into chaos.
The whole sound obliterates and is very, very satisfying. It very much reminds me of the feeling I had when I first heard “xmas steps.” “there are a lot of things wrong but that doesn’t mean i hate the world just me maybe” is basically just ambient noise and the trebly guitar form “gone with a knife…”. Compared to ‘100 gecs,’ this album is not as poppy, and does not seem to be relying on samples like ‘xXsAd_PrOm_ReMiXXz_201666Xx’.
NAKAV – SAFE SPACE (EP)
This is the first extended play by NAKAV (Nameless Animal Kills Associative Virus). It was tweeted about by the self-declared Internet’s Busiest Nerd, Anthony Fantano, last summer shortly after it was uploaded onto Soundcloud.
NAKAV sent me the first song on the EP over Facebook messenger prior to the EP’s release and, being taken aback by the lyrics, I decided to ask what inspired the track.
“Frustration about my social interactions with others I guess, and about conformist behavior,” NAKAV wrote. “My words in the song are a bit extreme, it’s a very dark and nihilistic expression I guess, not to be mistaken for how i actually generally view other people. It’s an expression for a misanthropic feeling that i reject in a calm and stable state of mind. But i still feel it from time to time, it’s just irrational.”
The use of the n-word is what particularly stood out to me, and challenged my ability to enjoy the music separately from the lyrics. I responded in June by saying:
“I see, well I’m glad music helps you deal with your struggle. I feel like [our mutual friend] just made a song about a similar feeling. One of alienation and irrational thought. I do the same thing from time to time. It’s just something that causes people that care to worry. Something to keep in mind.”
“I know,” NAKAV wrote. “And that is unfortunate for people who don’t really understand, but it seems really raw to me, and I appreciate those kind of expressions myself. I hope people don’t take it the wrong way, I have already found that some people take my lyrics the wrong way. And I hope my ‘n*****’ line wont be misinterpreted as some sort of racist comment. That idea spurred from something Patti Smith said about her being a “n***** of the universe” or the “underdog of society”. In the song I say that i root for the n*****, but he is beaten into something he/she is not. Not unfortunate for them, I mean for me really i guess lol.” [Editor’s note: racial slurs were edited out.]
“Yeah,” I responded.
“But idk,” NAKAV wrote. “I don’t really care if people get it wrong at the end of the day, I don’t feel responsible for people becoming offended or choosing not to look past the surface. Just is what it is, if someone is concerned or offended, then I guess don’t listen”
So, there you have it. NAKAV is willing to alienate his audience for the sake of his artistic expression. He added in a recent conversation that he doesn’t want to “push” his ideology onto anyone, but finds the “philosophy” behind his music to solely a “personal” one.
“LOL! SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST FUCKING CATTLE” to this day is still difficult for me to sit through the entirety of. As the song progresses, NAKAV’s vocals become further unwound and the Layne Staley-esque ad-libs become tiresome. I feel as though he is role playing a character in the bridge section, or maybe that is just how I make sense of the masochism.
However unlike @iikibiz, I found this EP easier to listen to as it progressed. The second song (“FISHTANK”) is a huge relief moment, as it is my favorite song NAKAV has released to this day. The production value on this song is also very impressive as I am familiar with NAKAV’s studio equipment. “FISHTANK” is a prime example one maximizing their abilities despite what technological limitations they have. Many of these samples sound homemade, but are clearly recorded and well placed throughout the song’s entirety.
“PC AWARENESS” takes the EP to new heights with intense vocal escalations and extreme visual lyrics “NO WORM WILL PET ON ME, APPLY THE CHRYSAROBIN / FIRE OF ANTHONY EXPEL THE REST THAN POUR IN / THE PURE LIGHT / ERASES ME, IM PHASING / UPON THE PLASTIC EARTH WHERE POST-HUMANS ARE GRAZING.” I get some Scott Walker vibes from the last track, but overall it sounds unlike anything else I’ve heard outside of this project. The flanger on the vocals is somewhat nauseating, but the physical reaction I have from listening feels much intended by the artist as well.
Genre: death industrial / power electronics
la pumpkin – traumas
La pumpkin is a visual and electronic music artist hailing from Savannah, Georgia. I found out about la pumpkin through the Zoom Lens release, “pain everywhere. all the time” last year. That was a personally significant album that helped me get through what I was going through at the time. I was lucky enough to meet the artist after a performance at SXSW last year. She was extremely kind and threw in really cool sticker with my purchase of “Bloody Memoir vol. I.”
I can’t help but feel anything besides sentimental listening to “traumas.” La pumpkin’s music has a unique quality to it that must be from the scales and chords she is using. The piano keys are very radiant and the strings are celestial. What contrasts this is the warlike kick snare patterns that remind me of a Manga Entertainment preview.
“dressing your wounds in black” has a dark emotional hardcore guitar riff with lots of low end texture. It seamlessly continues the la pumpkin experience of virtual instruments skipping to Avalon through pounding drums. “victimized” opens with a chorus-laden guitar arpeggio followed by panning and glitching cymbals that sync into a rapid-fire of kicks.
“Traumas” is released on Attack the Music, the label where I first discovered Meishi Smile. I encourage anyone reading this to peep the new charity compilation that la pumpkin and Meishi have put together with their Zoom Lens partners. Its for a cause, and there are a lot people who poured themselves into it for the cause despite the risks that such exposure can carry.