Reef Frequent – Afterlife
Artist: Reef Frequent
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 21 January 2016
Label: BLCR Laboratories
- Red cassette, edition 20 (BLCR Laboratories, 2016)
- Digital download (BLCR Laboratories, 2016)
Recommendation: ✂ (“rest dreaming again”, “struggle for air / drifting away”)
In 2016, Reef Frequent1 released a trilogy of concept albums with some exceptionally atypical sample sources where vaporwave is concerned. All three releases were released on digital and cassette format through BLCR Laboratories, and several albums fit “best of” lists for 2016. Afterlife2 was the first, coming out in January with some exceptionally evocative album artwork whose gradients let the listener immediately come to terms with the digital aspects therein.
The trilogy depicts an “intimate journey” into the afterlife, with Afterlife being the start of such a journey. The album substantially incorporates surrealism, with real-world sounds being merged with standard musical compositions to show the drifting in and out of the real world. The tracklist describes the narrative with straightforward active titles such as “boarding” – which metaphorically evokes the concept of death in boarding a train to be on to the next grand adventure. The album has a clear progression from beginning to end, although the actual songs – so to speak – can certainly be added to anyone’s particular playlist out of context.
Rather than adult contemporary, muzak, or R&B, the primary source material used in Afterlife is post-rock music. Right away, this sets the album off on an extremely distinct note,3 with substantial hypnagogic drift vibes with languid melodies and wandering chords that seem to exist in their own world just in the way that someone might be off in their own head. There are a few interludes in which Reef Frequent uses field recordings and other sound effects, such as splashes and water on the appropriately-named “diving in” and “waterfall”, and a train running on “boarding”.
1. the station – (0:58)
2. waiting – (7:01)
3. boarding – (1:18)
4. the journey / dreaming – (7:37)
5. exit / into the open – (5:24)
6. waterfall – (1:39)
7. rest dreaming again – (5:56)
8. diving in – (1:01)
9. beneath the surface – (3:22)
10. struggle for air / drifting away – (6:48)
11. there’s something down here – (5:24)
1Then known as reef frequent. Capitalization saves lives!
3No pun intended, since it’s music and all.