Post Photoshop






DIYPYЯΛMID, a name like a thunderbolt thrown by Zeus – or rather Baal – in order to enlighten the very artist who uses it! And due to the dazzling aura of the flash, the artist’s true name remains obscured. Not much is known about the Portland, Oregon-based synth wizard, video tape purifier and layer entangler, but what he is able to achieve is stunningly captivating and worth anyone’s while who is right at home in Drone caverns, VHS memorabilia, New Age vestiges and a cyberspace romance sans Rave beats. We have reached a point where it is harder to write about music as artists continue to obscure album titles or even the whole tracklist. What started comparably cheeky and transparently with Aphex Twin’s and Autechre’s Gaelicized impressions, artificial coinages and made-up words continues to evolve into much more stylized abhorrences which neglect the orderly Oxford Occident of old oaths. It is here where DIY Pyramid enters the scenery and freshens up the triptych of his mystical moniker, the stylish album title and the respective track titles in many other forms which cannot possibly be perfectly transfused here at AmbientExotica. His nine-track release Post Photoshop, self-released on Bandcamp, takes the cake in this regard and ridicules every reviewer or devoted listener who wants to talk about or mention the album in a conversation. Luckily, the track titles themselves are easier to digest.


Post Photoshop is the perfect gateway to the blurred fuzziness of DIY Pyramid’s otherwise splendidly vivacious world. Its nine Drone-based vignettes are neither too noisy, nor contingently structured, but do indeed capture those weird 80’s moments of tapes suffering from damage and various consumer-respecting advertisement jingles. But this is not the whole arsenal of the Portlandian’s styles. He is also as keen on the 70’s and their Age of Aquarius as well as the 90’s with their different scope of New Age, namely that of in-flux cyberspace voids of neon-lit mountains à la Panabrite, wireframe anecdotes about kilobytes and computer-generated birds that much more resemble their origami brethren than their real foils due to the limited availability of polygons. All of DIY Pyramid’s works have these bewildering and technocratic but also enormously benign and nostalgic layers in common, all of his releases sit in-between the cusp of this tumbling turmoil of fleeting images, the crevasses of short sample escapades and the valleys off the no man’s land of yore. My review of Post Photoshop may serve as a glimpse into the artist's inventive aural sceneries, but this particular work is also chosen due its rather accessible approach, whether that is a good thing or not. So here is that closer look at the specific aesthetics of DIY Pyramid.


The title of the album as it appears on the artist's Bandcamp page. It also matches the colors of your grandmother's nightgown.


And off we go into Kosmische realms with Sirius, an excitingly polyrhythmic Drone track of galactic proportions. There is actually no rhythm involved. It is more of a series of ophidian iridescences and cauterized bass bursts. The synth monotony in the background is your archetypical New Age aorta, functioning as the base frame of the perceptual lift-off into the noosphere, but it is the gyrating crystal prongs, the spheroidal dark matter alloy and the stereo-panned luminescence that make Sirius a delightfully soothing track despite its piercing protrusions and over-the-top DJ announcements, the latter of which provide a welcome human element that elbows itself to the foreground due to the involved cavalcades of ducking. As mercurial Sirius has been, the following Explorerro)r is much more streamlined despite its jitter-evoking portentous title. Raped tape reels and heterodyned frequencies are mellowly united here and glued together by the prolonged glitz of turquoise flutes whose effulgence is mild-mannered and well-groomed. Like a wonky gear train in a stokehold, Explorrero)r fathoms out the simultaneity of silkened bits of harshness and genuinely spheroidal tendrils of insouciance. The title hence bewilders big time, for this is a semi-metallic yet amicable flume. Moving ever-faster into the 80’s, Privacy Folder is based on a blue-tinged intertwinement of futuristic Freeez-like synth pads, gaseous bass vesicles and gorgeously wooden claves whose reverberation floats into the lacunar thicket of static noise and brazen clangs. A soft drone placenta is placed at the placid plaza, but everything in front of it bubbles and glimmers, albeit in another laid-back style.


The polyhedron Installation is my favorite critter, for it is terrifically (or terribly?) torn between a purposed quirkiness of lashing laser lights and "windows" anncouncements which link back to that shiny new OS of the mid-90's that gets to be installed. The tune feels like an eminently cavernous antrum in the shape of glacial but beguiling cloudlets of synth choirs whose sylvan nucleus illumines the Wild West in the foreground. Muffled voices, arhythmic churns and apocryphal atrophies meet, mesh and depart, the synth choir hums deeply before it is replaced by opalescent falsetto voices in tandem with sparking pads. The result ought to be a mess, but it is not, since the elements work really well in their forced unison. The enormously incisive Connect then revisits the effervescence of the ineffable Electronica or IDM genre of the 90’s, and even though there are quieter undertones and a wonderful plasticity of warp engine nebulae twirling in the background, these sources of light are outshone by the staggering synth stabs and cosmic bagpipe injections. The counterpart follows with Welco)meuser, an adamantly whitewashed chaparral of diffuse VHS memories, expectorated euphonies in jingle quality and sizzling dark matter coils. The cascading flow is definitely enchanting, even though this is no legato Drone track rather than a vesiculating rhythmic one. Its virtually erudite physiognomy and embracing solemnity – which is further nurtured by its title – let Welco)meuser appear as a vaulted sunburst.


If there is one example of a surprisingly funky and streamlined, i.e. orderly track, it has to be Pantheon, a nod to the electrifying Funk movement of the late 70’s which slowly diverged into the galactosamine-fueled Hip-Hop craze. Oscillating wah-wah synth whorls coalesce with a blurred and designedly etiolated drum computer rhythm. But it is the progressive developments which enchant the listener. Clicking rain sticks, superbly texturized complexions of synth washes and down-pitched paths let Pantheon serve as an opposite artifact to the well-produced glitz and oomph of Dâm-Funk or Discoverer who otherwise are on DIY Pyramid’s side, fighting the good fight in order to epitomize retrogression in unity with steadfast outlooks into the future. The follow-up Encryption resides in similar realms and features a steady beat structure while the Portland-based producer ameliorates the synthetic soils of this riverbed further. A raspish-robotic two-note scheme becomes entangled with fuzzy frequency foils and civilized wormhole specks before the whole arrangement is yet again pitched down in order to uncover the formerly inaudible interstices, niches and acroamatic moods. The opus eximium and apotheosis to Post Photoshop is called Series Finale, a luminous and superbly sanguine glitzscape which is strikingly accessible and encapsulating. Softened polyphonic stardust rivers flitter past the coruscating scintillae and bumping bass fundament. Even striving pentatonic puissance, the pristine purity of Series Finale is much less willfully farcical than the eclectic material before it, and continues its epicurean evocation way after the all too quick fade-out phase puts an end to the superstructure.


Post Photoshop (or whatever it may be called once the hieroglyphics are completely deciphered by future generations) is less of a meaningful opus of DIY Pyramid’s convoluted oeuvre than an interim stage on his way to creating a new cyberspace-fueled virtual reality, and hey, these are no mere buzzwords of yesteryear but definitely applicable in terms of the architecture, wideness and tectonic soils. While clearly Drone-based, DIY Pyramid makes sure that the material of Post Photoshop does not linger overly long in an archetypical state of a, well, droning monotony. The simultaneity of the eclectic layers works really well, and whatever the current of a track, it never feels overloaded or out of control. The hollow distance, the black nonentity and nightmarish emptiness are perceptible all the time and serve as reminders of the total apocalypse that can happen to every video tape and leads to utter silence and blackness, but until this very state is reached, the warbled wonkiness of the droning faux-reels bursts at the seams and emanates all colors of the rainbow. Soothing space seraphims à la Sirius and Series Finale meet cosmic cherubims of the likes of Privacy Folder before a more structured Funk apex is reached in the shapes of Pantheon and Encryption. The track titles already give the grinding force of DIY Pyramid’s aesthetics away: nature can be embraced and even finds its way to the instrumentations, but for the time being, the skilled producer worships technology with all its flaws. Despite the synths being analogue and covered in blurred filters and pointillistic basslines, sharper edges loom on the horizon as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than in an incision that is transmuted into music and then called Connect. Whatever your poison may be, by all means check out the works of DIY Pyramid. Fans of retro-futuristic synth-amplified Drone works painting cyberascetic dioramas will not regret it.


Further lisening and reading: 

  • You can purchase and fully stream Post Photoshop at Bandcamp
  • Follow DIY Pyramid on Twitter where he uses the auspicious moniker @vcrcleaner.


Ambient Review 252: DIYPYЯΛMID – Post Photoshop (2013). Originally published on Aug. 21, 2013 at