Interstellar 42






Progress, one of humanity’s finest words, loved in the Occident but lived in the Far East. Everyone has so many fond memories of this incandescent word. Whether you improve your skills as an artist, make progress in learning a second language or simply watch the sun progress as the day begins, it is a powerful term both for the sole observer and mankind in general. I’ve got news for you though: the five-track EP Progress by mysterious artist Interstellar 42 is no shimmering sparkler of positive thinking. This work only progresses because time does so too. Released in November 2014 on the Vancouver, Canada-based underground label Rain Dragon Records and available to fetch digitally or as a limited crimson-red tape on Bandcamp, Interstellar 42 annihilates the Seapunk rhizomes and Vaporwave veils of the label. The artist very much prefers to adjust his Mini Moog or Korg hardware in order to create a pentangular flowerage of minimal synth globs, hoarfrost drums and fibrillar iterations of threatening silence. In lieu of filters, static noise or amplified metamorphoses, Progress is seemingly presented “as is” with minimal amounts of echo, reverb or related effects. The journey is undoubtedly galactic as the respective track titles reveal, but the adaptation of the languorous/adventurous duality demands a closer look.


I don’t know whether the opener Seikan No delineates the kind of progress I have in mind when the world of Vaporwave opens up before the inner eye, but there’s no doubt that the song progresses adamantly, regardless of one’s personal feelings. A dystopian, nasty, mean-spirited prowler Seikan No is, loaded with mercilessly cauterized dark matter pads whose oomph empties the medulla out of dem bones. The three-note motif is then further accompanied by laid-back Hip-Hop handclaps and tight beats waiting to blast through the corset. The opener is what I tend to call mephitic and rubicund, and what a coincidence, so are the colors of the front artwork! The adjacent Galactic revs up things a notch or two, enchanting with wildly oscillating metalization prongs. Wobbling and pulsating, this quasi-beat is further refined by fast-paced percussion, whitewashed hi-hats and a mercurial, if ultimately recondite array of synth-based galactosamines. Rhythm shifts, nullity in the backdrop, desiccate dance fever ensues.


Up next is Forwarded, and while it is no entirely different affair, the drum section enchants specifically, as it seems like a live beat while still being wittily programmed. In the greater scheme of things and within the endogenic world of the tape, Forwarded is undoubtedly the most uplifting tune, whatever that means in regard to the dystopian scheme. The vuvuzela stadion horns may serve as riotous acid vestiges and lachrymose rave patterns, but it is the helicoidal square lead punctilio that emits an amethystine glow. Wildly gyring, with its frequencies sometimes crossing the threshold to vivacity, there is delight amidst the chlorotic technocracy. The following Sea Of Stars is the tape’s centerpiece and of a comparatively majestic physiognomy. The hammering Korg Kaoss pads – or a derivate thereof – encapsulate stardust, hope and a pinch of 80’s flamboyancy as the eponymous sea unfurls. Parallax layers of bouncing starlets and moonshine round off a pompous epiphany within the proclaimed intrinsic minimalism. Synthetic Oblivion puts the finishing touches on the spacial peritoneum with the aid of wobbling bass sequences, calcined tributaries, staccato riverbeds and great drum sections that invoke that kind of liveliness yet again.


Interstellar 42’s Progress is an expectedly apocryphal affair, but once the title of this EP is judged and linked back to the five pericarps orbiting within its aural periphery, chances are that the traveling subject cannot easily relate to the thin layers, dry droplets and rufescent complexion. Progress is therefore an artifact for a specific clientele that wouldn’t even dream of listening to Vaporwave music in the first place. Interstellar 42 has consequentially refrained from injecting large quantities of Japanese samples, BGM memorabilia or crystalline synth emeralds. The realm remains portentous at best, the drums don’t harbor any emotion, but the fluttering melodies sure do. While there aren’t any legato washes that could caulk the asbestus-coated scrimshaw/sawtooth attitude, there is a certain playfulness embedded in the glittering dots and blebs. Progress showcases a rather clean dystopia where ominous shudders are solely caused by the dark and staggering synth pads and their pernicious timbre. No jitters, static noise or other Glitch things are ever dropped. The result is hence all the more bewildering, as it is alarmingly less ornamental. The focus on the interplay of the different textures, sounds and the looming silence in the background make Interstellar 42’s Progress a plasticizer whose ingredients are always absorbable, but at the same time caustic enough to decompose any restraint. You belong to the cosmos after all.


Further listening and reading:

  • You can purchase and fully stream Progress at Bandcamp
  • Rain Dragon Records’ Twitter Profile: @raindragonrec.


Ambient Review 407: Interstellar 42 – Progress (2014). Originally published on Jan. 14, 2015 at