Faint Waves
Ocean Drift EP






The music of Daytona Beach, Florida-based artist Faint Waves – who's incidentally one half of Stereo Tropic – is not necessarily the paragon of Vaporwave, but due to the magnanimously glowing side panels, subsidiary runways and ancillary aureoles, he approaches the very genre by means of amalgamation and fusillades of tropicisms, thereby becoming – and remaining – a force to reckon with when dreamtime is nigh. Enter the Ocean Drift EP, a six-track shiralee of presumed leftovers and B-sides that couldn’t make it onto the preceding Off The Coast EP for various reasons, but now find a new home at the artist’s Bandcamp page.


Since the dawn of the music industry, however, it has been alleged an awful lot of times that ostracized, expelled material showcases the true spirit of an(y) artist or band, a lively set of new rules deemed too experimental, harsh or even maudlin. I can’t vouch for this being the case here, for Faint Waves’ principal focus is tightly in place and easily recognizable in all of the six chromophore pieces too: basically, the artist cross-links synthesizers with Funk guitars and apocryphal brass halides in order to create the immersion of beaches, oases, lagoons and driftwood, the lattermost of which is partially reflected in the title already. These locales are no isolated reveries or mirages, and it so happens that the scent of a faraway exogenous metropolis is usually recognizable ever so softly, be it through the track titles or audible verglas fissures that break the nostalgic reverie. Here is a meticulous look at every track which at the same time functions as an absorption of the laid-back estuaries and avulsions Faint Waves channels through the benthic megafauna.


Although the title may be a tad too overdramatic for the attached soundscape, opener Funk Panic rolls along with a hatched complexion, resembling an umbrageous solanum, worshipping the color range that appears after the sunset is over. A sensorial apprehension for the things to come is already tightly integrated, and the only red hue derives from the volatile redshift. Semi-metallic lo-freq blebs made of corrugated iron and the tidal flexing of fittingly funky guitar telomeres create a pulling effect in tandem with the ghostly synth veils and tawny hi-hat duology. It isn’t until mid-song though that the euphony of the stringed lead instrument increases, and so does its lucency. The mis-chromosomed ergosphere wanes, making room for a post-nocturnal resolution. The follow-up Espadrille meanwhile succumbs to a bass punctilio whose noticeable earwig qualities remind of the early 90’s Eurodance craze, not exactly the decade Faint Waves has in mind and one possible reason for the song’s appearance on this collection of B-sides. In addition, the legato synth washes seem to be pectin-based polymers; aeriform and fluvial, they point leeway and remain the epigenetic illuminants to the crunchy guitar granuloma.


The centerpiece All My Love meanwhile clocks in at over four minutes and offers a gorgeous downbeat peritoneum of lachrymose lariat lilts, MIDIfied supra-conducting paths of the brassy kind and a wondrous mood that shuttles between insouciance and solace. All chord sequences point to a euphoric situation, a deeply satisfying life-affirming sanctuary… were it not for the decidedly slow tempo and Ambient-affine focus which adds a differing – albeit not contrapuntal – second proselytizing layer to the beach-centric phototropism. The adjacent Evening Street is hued in crimson colors, revs up the tempo, bathes in thermal warmth and emits stupefyingly soothing magnetotails. The drums gleam in a silver hue, and once the lacustrine licks merge with the grainy synthetics, the polarimetry prospers and a superionic resonance can unfold. Contemplation is exchanged for a shimmering cue-play, but that’s no disadvantage at all!


Once the title track Ocean Drift rolls along, the orange saturation increases yet another time: pyroxene-clashing, aliphatic synth horns swirl around a barycenter of gratitude, everything is aglow, there’s even a parallax train of thought attached that leads to the aural aesthetics of 80’s beach workout videos. A strong chemotaxis! The endpoint Lovers Lounge kisses the hunk goodbye and lets the EP become full circle. Now it is the cyan-viridian areas of the front artwork that are transformed into music. The archetypal ultramafic sax halls through the nothingness of the night, fueled by periglacial superimpositions and the looming omnipresence of a distant megacity. Welcome, Vaporwave.


Ocean Drift is the perfect title for this collection of auspicious abandonware, for the nomological – almost mesozoic – state of drifting along to the sceneries is always maintained, never ridiculed, effulgently ubiquitous. It is true that the allusion to a power drift is equally close at hand, what with the beloved stereotype of a blazingly red sportster in the sunset… NeonTropix’s self-titled debut (Dream Catalogue, 2014) comes to mind, as do the works of Phoenix #2772 and many artists of the Outrun subgenre. However, the music of Faint Waves rotoscopes around lagoons and beaches by tendency, and the closer look is more cherished than a histrionic tunnel vision. Nowhere does this become more clear than in the EP’s nucleus All My Love which is a stellar example of an elasticized perianth of orthonormality.


In lieu of flashing kickdrums and the V-genre’s fondness for chirality and megasaturation, a compatible but toned down circumambulation is cherished. The journey is the reward, not a specific hook or glistening surface per se. This applies to the whole sextet of tracks and is possibly the greatest compliment to make: the melodies are so strong, they don’t need particularly memorable textures. Naturally, Faint Waves delivers those regardless and makes a great chromogenic unison of these holistic parts. Occasionally, things might go awry: I happen to be somewhat of a fan of cheesy Eurodance classics, so I dig Espadrille’s nod to an era where the basslines enshrine even more melodies than the Dub movement, but I can also see the over-the-top discrepancy of this approach. This fast food amanita notwithstanding, the Ocean Drift EP is a panchromatic suntrap… encapsulated in amniotic nights.


Further listening and reading:

  • You can get (name your price) and stream the EP at Bandcamp.
  • Faint Waves resides on a lagoon named Twitter: @FaintWavesMusic 


Vaporwave Review 082: Faint Waves – Ocean Drift EP (2015). Originally published on May 24, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.