Zenkraft – COLD NIGHTS 1 2 MANY
COLD NIGHTS 1 2 MANY is the third album out of four released through the short-lived label Retrotech Sounds, from which nothing has been released since October 2015.1 It comes from the Australian artist Zenkraft, who utilizes a mix of hip-hop, adult contemporary, and new age (or slowed-down enough to sound new age) sounds in a seven-track mix of classic-style vaporwave. Somewhat unique among classic-style releases (although FLORAL SHOPPE is a notable aversion), COLD NIGHTS 1 2 MANY is primarily constructed out of relatively long-form songs; three are over six minutes in length, and one surpasses eight minutes.
Generally speaking, COLD NIGHTS 1 2 MANY succeeds on the more ambient parts but lacks where the sample curation aspect is especially egregious or specious. “Auralrothko (no3 bluegrey)” is a particularly egregious perpetrator, whereby the hip-hop samples sound awkward and out-of-place on an album that began with classic-style smooth jazz via “summer, summer”. Hip-hop as a sample source in vaporwave is a tricky business, and it’s rarely pulled-off well. Even the original ECCOJAMS album faltered with it; the Tupac sample on “B5” (a.k.a. “World”) is easily the weakest track on an otherwise stellar album. The glitch-hop vibe on “Auralrothko (no3 bluegrey)” has potential, but in the end the rapping aspect sounds more non sequitur than a successfully integrated aspect of this album’s classic-style milieu. When bookended by straightforward classic-style and ambient vaporwave, COLD NIGHTS 1 2 MANY sounds inconsistent. Post-rocky “How To Save A Dying Pine Tree” is sonically pleasing, but the sample curation aspect is too blatant to be appreciated on its own artistic merit.
Again, the best tracks are the more ambient ones, despite the classic-style samplism still being rather obvious. The drone ripples on “BNE 245am” (the standout cut for this release) recalls the メディカル project by gorepup, one of the co-owners of BLCR Laboratories and the founder of Acid Medical. Despite its absolutely terrible title, “The Song Title Is Long Because God Is Dead”2 has a glitchy trip-hop percussion sample with a piano melody. Final song “63 Grey Street 2008-2011” ends the album on a particularly cinematic note, to which comparisons of Shima33 would not be inaccurate.
1. summer, summer – (3:21)
2. Auralrothko (no3 bluegrey) – (8:16)
3. How to Save a Dying Pine Tree – (3:36)
4. BNE 245am – (6:16)
5. Sand, Apparently – (6:16)
6. The Song Title Is Long Because God Is Dead – (3:02)
7. 63 Grey Street 2008-2011 – (6:14)
1Bandcamp is littered with the corpses of dead labels.
2What is this, The Smiths?