ASCEND – ANOMALY
ANOMALY is one half of a two-part release1 by the artist ASCEND that was released on 29 February 2016 through Question Records. Each of its twelve tracks is designated as a new “episode” (as with its sister album). ANOMALY is full of discursive ECCOJAMS that applies varying amounts of pitch-/tempo-shifting, gain, and reverb to even more varied samples that range from grunge to gangster hip-hop to new age music. In this way, it’s similar to the self-titled album by GEOFLESH available through Smirk Sounds, except that GEOFLESH’s album sampled from other vaporwave tracks where ANOMALY utilizes pop(-ish) media.
Many ECCOJAMS artists stick to one or two types of effects when producing their albums. For example, Daniel Lopatin used swirly wall-of-sound on Chuck Person’s ECCOJAMS Vol. 1, Darksleep employed jump cut skipping on Identity Ender, and Triad Research Laboratories wrung the hell out of classic-style sampling techniques on The Vaporwave Trials. ANOMALY features all of these and more, sometimes in the same track. For example, “Episode 11 ALMOST GONE” is classic-style samplism of a hip-hop lyric that slowly becomes more and more drawn out, whereas immediate follow-up “Episode 12 RAW TIME” utilizes the Chuck Person style of bleed-through surrealism. Likewise, the samples are all over the place in context to one another; “Episode 1 WE NEED TO GO BACK” juxtaposes Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”2 with “Song 2” by Blur.3
This extreme variety is occasionally successful and occasionally not. The main drawback is that of all such albums, where the discursive nature is so pronounced that the work devolves from an organized mess to a chaotic one sans the implication that the chaos has a purpose or was purposeful. The cut-up technique used to juxtapose the aforementioned samples on “Episode 1 WE NEED TO GO BACK” presents the sequence as a confusing non sequitur, and the classic-style vaporwave editing adjustments made to the “Song 2” sample obfuscates rather than emphasizes the earworm nature of ECCOJAMS. It’s as if the album goes off on little tangents that aren’t related to the initial idea presented, which is double confounded by the presence of tracks that do. This is demonstrated (despite it otherwise being an enjoyable track) by “Episode 4 WOLF CRY”, which marries a Hispanic music sample4 with a house beat through which wordless wrung-out vocals drift. It shows an apt fusion of source material, which makes the more cut-up songs seem unfinished rather than deliberately rough.
ANOMALY has a few interesting moments, so if you are really into ECCOJAMS and/or appreciate music with a bit of potentially charming inelegance, then give it a try. “Episode 4 WOLF CRY” and “Episode 10 REAL EMOTION” are good starting points.
1. Episode 1 WE NEED TO GO BACK – (2:34)
2. Episode 2 GLIMPSE OF WHAT COULD BE – (2:53)
3. Episode 3 ABSOLUTE ZERO – (2:27)
4. Episode 4 DYNAMIC HAPPINESS – (2:13)
5. Episode 5 WE’VE LANDED JURASSIC – (0:56)
6. Episode 6 ANOMALY – (2:23)
7. Episode 7 DETROIT BAD FUTURE – (2:55)
8. Episode 8 WAY TOO FAR – (3:23)
9. Episode 9 STUCK BETWEEN – (3:22)
10. Episode 10 REAL EMOTION – (2:24)
11. Episode 11 ALMOST GONE – (1:53)
12. Episode 12 RAW TIME – (4:58)
1The other being SAVIOR.
2The quintessential American jazz standard.
3The quintessential “woo-hoo” song.
4I’m sorry, I don’t know enough about Hispanic music to provide more details with which I would be comfortable.