DARKPYRAMID – ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS
ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS is the first album from the DARKPYRAMID1 project, released through Dream Catalogue in March of 2014 as the twelfth overall release by the fledgling label. It’s the start of the “love story”2 narrative in the DARKPYRAMID albums, which isn’t readily apparent but may be seen in the accompanying text of a woman finding comfort in the arms of an android during a power failure of an underwater transport system.3 The computerized spoken word intro/outro contain the first mention of the “diamond heart,” a running philosophical/thematic concept throughout the rest of the DARKPYRAMID series – especially on the follow-up A Heart Full of Love.
For the most part, ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS is classic-style vaporwave with experimentation in late night lo-fi that was somewhat a signature of the early Dream Catalogue style. “P▲IN” is easily the most “vaporwave” track, with a prominent R&B sampled through its entire run against significant hiss, as if the track is being played through the train’s crackling, automatic speakers right before the accident. Other tracks such as “VIRTU▲LOVE” and “GENER▲TE EXCESS” are striking examples of the project’s future in smoky, almost seductive ambient music. “Corporate Romance” utilizes a tremolo synth/string against a downtempo beat and vaguely exotica-sounding melody to create one of the best early Dream Catalogue tracks ever released. The title track is pretty acid-jazzy, and “▲CCESS MEMORY” features a vaguely trippy hi-hat that’s a hit-or-miss depending on your fondness for trap music.
The songs are produced to mimic heavy compression, as if they’re being played through speakers that are partially submerged underwater. Fans of HKE’s higher-fidelity production styles as heard on HK, the 2814 collaboration with telepath, and the vast majority of his ghost tech output may be surprised at how different it is compared to the output of the last couple of years. In the context of the narrative, the crepitant production is an excellent in affect,4 holding a bit of the are-we-going-to-make-it-? mood implied by the backstory. Classic-style vaporwave has a somewhat-deserved representation of being derivative and lacking in inspiration, but ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS demonstrates that when it’s done well, it can be done really well.
(In 2016, Dream Catalogue edited the tracklisting of ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS, replacing the pyramid symbols with the letter “a” and removing the all-caps. Current releases use this modernized tracklisting.)
1. DOWNLO▲D ST▲RT – (1:15)
2. ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS – (3:16)
3. CYBORG EMOTION▲L – (3:00)
4. L▲ST SUMMER – (2:52)
5. POSTHUM▲N – (2:06)
6. CORPOR▲TE ROM▲NCE – (2:49)
7. ▲CCESS MEMORY – (2:44)
8. P▲IN – (2:40)
9. VIRTU▲LOVE – (2:45)
10. GENER▲TE EXCESS – (5:20)
11. DOWNLO▲D F▲ILURE – (1:53)
1Stylized as “D▲RKPYR▲MID.”
2… as confirmed by HKE’s Twitter account, but I can’t find the tweet anymore. Might’ve been deleted. It described some of his aliases: Sandtimer is “an asshole,” Chessmaster doesn’t know who he is (or something along those lines), and DARKPYRAMID is a “love story.”
3Full text, as pulled from my copy “December 25th, 2301. It was layers beneath the ocean floor where she huddled next to him, what could have been her last moment, there in the black abyss. The power of the laser train had been off for over an hour, and a thick silence filled the air of the carriage. But she felt safe in his arms. The comfort of his breath on the back of her neck reminded her of a synthetic breeze on a virtual beach. It was only when the lights came back on with a blink that she noticed the coldness of his arms, the firmness of his chest, the stillness of his being. An android… She told him “Thankyou, for everything”. He responded with a nod and a cold “Yes”. She wondered why her heart raced for him the duration of the journey to the Old Pyongyang Megapolis that evening.
4Yes, “affect.” Fight me.