Training Saga EP






One look at the front artwork, and one seems to know what to expect and expect what to know: Training Saga is most certainly one of those Japanophile works supercharged with multitrack sounds, crystalline landscapes and the hero's path to adolescence, right? Heck, it has been done before in an enthralling way on R23X’s vintage wonderland OSV – Original Sound Vision (Dream Catalogue, 2015) which depicted archetypal locales and game mechanics in purely aural form. However, those who know the artist of this here EP implicitly obey to the particular/peculiar diffeomorphism he is principally known for: enter Mmöner and his digital Training Saga EP released on Vancouver’s Rain Dragon Records, available for free at Bandcamp. Mmöner has been previously featured on AmbientExotica’s inaugural Vapor Vertebrae installment for a very good reason: his music is unapologetically tied to the Witch House genre, with vesicles of Hauntology, globs of Glitch and a pinch of Vaporwave thrown in. The Vaporwave fan might be alienated by each of the three tracks the EP has to offer, but that’s the very reason I review Training Saga in-depth: the ultimate artistic motive for this spreading uneasiness is as surprising as the construction of the textures. It is the textures which make this a glitchy Vaporwave release… and the melodies witch flirt with the apocalypse.


Mmöner’s pseudo-panchromatic training shrine is established with the aid of the opener Tǚrquøise Hǻir, a decisive nod toward the Japanese RPG convention of flowing manes in technicolor, with no bad hair day in sight whatsoever. Stylistically, the opener functions as an important synthesis of two antagonistic forces which are both equally close to the artist’s heart, or so it seems, namely the aforementioned dualism of Witch House and Vaporwave. The former convention is realized via portentously mis-chromosomed, highly volatile ignis fatuus synths of a dissonant conniption, whereas the latter establishes its quasi-luring qualities on a textural basis only. Everything seems to be pristine, purified, aglow, the world is glistening alright. The panoptic melodies, however, circumvent this sentiment at best and mob it up at worst. Malevolently hypnotizing, the zoetropic tone sequence comprises of convoluted chord progressions that are most likely to be found in a horror movie. There’s no demonic organ though, making Tǚrquøise Hǻir a torch of chirality.


From chirality to chivalry: Saiŷaŋ Natĩve opens up the void for a black knight who would be the most favorable gestalt to appear amid a multiplex of evil. Mmöner’s apocryphal wizardry is running on all cylinders in this track too. Mephitic bass bubbles, chlorotic cauldron crackles, ligneous leptons and wind gusts straight out of an ergosphere make up the majority of Saiŷaŋ Natĩve’s punctilio. It is a bleepfest at the end of the day, a tad too implausible or arbitrary to be honest: no controlling instance guides the accidental attrition, the helicoidal-labyrinthine complexion is left on its own devices. There is no superior meaning grafted onto the plinking desiccation, just a horrifically chopped cascade gliding down into the abyss. Baltic Witch House flavors reign in here, even the orographic circumambience is ogival and mercilessly rotoscoping. A crimson-red apocalypse, and we’re still in training territory according to the title of the EP!


Make no mistake: the finale Supëŗ Adul† ☾ombo ☿ offers more of the same strychnine-alloyed surfactants, true enough, but at least there’s a neutraceutical thread in this nematode that actually makes sense on a gregarious level. While benignancy and rationality are out to lunch, it is the task of Mmöner’s iconoclasm to plasticize away the pastel-colored megafauna and create an ill-spirited Glitch peritoneum with cavalcades of textures, some of them expectedly acidic, others resembling Trinidadian steel pans (!) of all things. A teutonic four-to-the-floor beat serves as the principal aorta; in tandem with the synthetic handclaps, a retrogressive club atmosphere is evoked. Supëŗ Adul† ☾ombo ☿ is not the crepuscular solanum it could have been, it is in fact driven by holarctic – even Caribbean – parallax prongs of comparative delight, but it nonetheless emphasizes the cervical ribcage of the whole EP, and it is once more the accursed incandescence of Witch House.


Mmöner’s Training Saga is a triptych of Glitch, Vaporwave and Witch House, but it is the lattermost style that is the strongest force to reckon with, most certainly causing the listener to pray for a colloidal thiazide that washes away the anxiety. The constant amount of twisted telomeres and warped wisps makes for a bewildering listening experience that captures the antediluvian atonalities of the mid–90’s when the upcoming pattern of IDM co-existed next to the previously mellifluous and super-sumptuous analog sound waves. There is an apoplectic force deeply embroidered into the three-track realm, but it doesn’t manifest itself by means of histrionic over-the-top drone dioramas or multiplied texture-driven immersions, no: annealed and calcined most of the time, the Training Saga EP is a bone-dry affair, violently flaring but getting rid of all processing effects such as reverb or decay. That the release feels faux-plethoric is probably based on the calcareous blips and bit-crushed talons. These things considered, Rain Dragon Records is a superb home base for the artist; their love for eclectic-cosmic aridity has been proven with releases such as Interstellar's Progress (2014) whose auspicious title has been cleverly restrained and retrenched as well. The archetypal Vaporwave fan – whoever that might be – should be attentive and on his guard: Mmöner’s world is devastated and experimental even by the V-genre’s standards and tendencies. The oscillation between eldritch and elusive surfaces, however, is a trademark the producer should better not be ashamed of.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 080: Mmöner – Training Saga EP (2015). Originally published on May 17, 2015 at