Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 4/22/20


Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Andrea

Andrea – RITORNO

Genre: Ambient Techno, Breakbeat

Favorite Tracks: “LS September,” “TrackQY,” “Reinf,” “Backdrops,” “Lana”

Ilian Tape is a machine. The Munich label has been among the most reliable in the world, putting out incredible releases at an exceptional rate from the likes of mainstays Skee Mask and Stenny, as well as guest appearances from legends like Surgeon. Andrea has been responsible for many of those stunners, particularly OUTLINES and REMADE, and his early EPs have been some of the strongest in the scene. His calling card has been the intersection of force and finesse, stacking somber synths atop sinister breaks to create dense but digestible dance music that rewards repeated listens. Tracks like “Radiant” took disparate ideas that collide and coalesce to thrilling avenues few other producers venture down. But he had yet to deliver a debut LP, thus begging the question: What would his LP sound like?

RITORNO is Andrea on another level. The Italian producer’s first full-length is not just the best release in his discography, it rivals that of the entire label’s. Each track more than earns its spot on the album, a record that, at nearly an hour long, is one of the rare few that could stand to be a little longer. “Attimo” is one of the more clever bits of production; the opening track buries a bulk of the most compelling elements well beneath the surface. While those bits toil below, your attention is shepherded between oblique, wayward synth stabs that make for a murky yet mesmerizing listen. The overall vibe is more restrained than his extended plays but the more boisterous side of his sound comes out from time to time on tracks like “SKYLN,” “TrackQY,” and “Backdrops,” the latter was the third and not final time I’d thought I’d heard his best track to date. Repeated listens prove “Reinf” and “Lana” to be RITORNO’s best. “Reinf” moves like a serpent, lightning fast, elusive, and constantly shedding. Each movement happens in the snap of a finger and you’re immediately immersed into the next sonic chapter. The record closes on “Lana” which saves the album’s best melody for last, a soothing way to slip out.

RITORNO exceeded even my lofty expectations, melding together sounds and styles that generally would have no business playing nice. With his first LP, Andrea turns chaos into clarity. Try RITORNO at Bandcamp. [Ryan Moloney]

Bandcamp Picks Strawberry Hospital

Strawberry Hospital – GRAVE CHIMERA

Genre: Blackgaze, Trancecore

Favorite Tracks: “Memento,” “Chimera,” “Cherish,” “Arowana’s Scarlet”

This will sound like hyperbole, but for those who know me well, perhaps you will be slower to call bullshit: GRAVE CHIMERA made me cry over the 30-or-so listens I’ve given to it since discovering it in the wee hours of Sunday morning and the publication of this piece today. That’s certainly due in no small part to the music; walking a nearly incomprehensibly daring mix of scenecore evoking Attack Attack! and I See Stars, blackgaze ripped right from the evocative heights of Deafheaven’s “The Pecan Tree,” uplifting trance sensibilities that will make genre-head fans of underground icon syatten blush, and vocaloid-favoring, J-Pop-adjacent “clean” segments that sound like they waltzed right off Meishi Smile’s Zoom Lens label, there is a smorgasbord of treasures for the intrepid internet-savvy listener to unearth. All of that nearly goes without saying that GRAVE CHIMERA is right in the pocket of the hyper-heightened, oddball, genre-bending emotionalism that has found prominence these past 11 months via a certain pairing of flaxen-haired figureheads, feeling like something that would, and perhaps should, have been released in the wake of the parameter-shifting 1000 GECS—that it predates that album by roughly nine months is all the more a mark in the favor of the mostly anonymous Texas musician known as Strawberry Hospital.

GRAVE CHIMERA is a risk-addicted and entirely singular debut that triumphantly sticks the landing, but what really brought a tear to my eye is that I would have never in a million years heard of GRAVE CHIMERA had it not been for the online music communities that I’m a part of. Passed entirely along by high user ratings, message board chatter, and personal recommendations, this is the kind of album that the internet was made to host and gas up, a retroactively appreciated progenitor to the fervor that made Dylan Brady and Laura Les the vanguards they are today. Music that will mean more to you than anything you’ve ever heard exists around you at all times, waiting for you to find it. Take risks. Explore and appreciate everything. Never stop telling the world what you think is worth engaging with. That’s the motto that changed my life with 100 gecs, and that’s the motto that I’ll take to heart for GRAVE CHIMERA. Check it out on Bandcamp here. [Thomas Seraydarian]

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