Perla Blue






When California-based vaporwaver Perla Blue told me in advance that he is going to outline a work about the telenovela subculture spawned in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and other tropical behemoths, I was impressed right from the get-go, without having heard a single stem or aural cell tissue, for this is a dangerous endeavor after all. The artificial world of the telenovela even beats the plastic puissance of Vaporwave, and it is only the latter that can overcome its vicious cycle by means of vitalism, all the while the former is kept in limbo so that viewers return to Rolando, Hermano, Maria and their pseudo-adventures in a locale, street or apartment of your choice. As it turns out though, the finished six-track product テレノベラ widens the scope despite the front artwork whose talented actors are pestered by chromatic aberration.


Released in July 2015 on the Los Angeles-based Gem Tones label and available to fetch and stream at their Bandcamp page, Perla Blue’s EP is now advertised as "an homage to early television culture" instead; OSCOB's チャンネルサーフィン1978–1984 comes to mind, although it's situated in Japan. Since we’re talking about the V-genre here, early translates into 80’s, so don’t expect black-and-white heirlooms of the airwaves. Humongous synths serve as catalysts, drums and rhythms improve the sense of movement, samples and elasticized vocals function as pulsatile cornerstones, and last but definitely not least, テレノベラ winds down in the most nutritious way. Here, then, is a closer look at all of its tracks, the – buzz word alert – aesthetics as well as the conglomerate of great augmentations and missed opportunities.


"After days and nights of unconsciousness, Atreyu slowly opened his eyes and found himself in strange surroundings." Certainly one of the best adages for the V-movement, Perla Blue kicks off the Mexi-Cali atmosphere of The Luck Dragon with the above quote from The Neverending Story. Clocking in a bit over the mark of two minutes, the song encapsulates the primary aesthetic of the Gem Tones label, that is rhombohedral helixes of crystalline synth, helictites and biomorphic cave pearls. But this is not about Ambient doldrums. In fact, The Luck Dragon sees its physiognomy revved up within a remarkable upper midtempo range spawning bass guitar lariats, soulful vocals and pectiniform swooshes. A bit humpy and jarring due to the agglutinated breakbeat, the kaleidoscopic melody radiates wonder and awe in technicolor.


The adjacent centerpiece Celadon City Deluxe meanwhile schleps itself forward into a vermillion-colored haze of burning asphalt, sunset-kissed longitudinal reflections and high-rise synth protrusions whose polished translucency scythe through the phytotelemata like edgy lozenges. Municipal, organic and retro-futuristic, with vocals and fusillades of staccato drums always in close proximity, this sporophyte worships technocracy in the city alright. It is the following Pepsilindro, however, where Perla Blue fully addresses the self-chosen overarching theme of telenovela thiazides. The suave-debonair-oily triplet of a Latin actor eventually leads to high-energy synth stabs, cerulean parallax backings and, at the very end, a short flashback into a cotton candy-colored cathode ray-lit jingle.


Now that the mood of softly simmering memorabilia and glaring glints is firmly in place, Maradona ‘86 sees the world-famous goooooo(a)l injected into a arpeggiated antrum of dubiously pastel-colored shrapnel keys whose arhythmic hiccups and burst schemes add fuego and elbowing cataracts to the soundscape. In lieu of triumphant ecstasy, a misty monoterpene is presented, strangely hued in twilight, with no definite mood to be pinpointed. The case of Super Nimbus is clear though: the penultimate saprotroph succumbs to analog glowworm cenobitism complete with a high-chroma circumambience of mellowly ogival synth afterglows. At the end, futuristic rain pad magentotails round off the telomeric accretion before Dawn Of The Final Day kisses the listener good-bye with cherubic roof garden ergosphere overlooking the lanthanum-colored troposphere. The electric piano is consequentially gelid, the adjacent icicles and hollow wind chimes augment the sensorial apprehension of being encapsulated in a rhenium-based tower high above the megacity. A volatile-fragile endpoint.


If the reciprocation between front artwork, track titles and soundscapes is taken into account, it turns out that Perla Blue hasn’t considered the full potential of a TV-focused artifact in general and a telenovela-centered album in particular. Chances are that the listener can be glad about this though! Ooze and schmaltz, kitsch and tackiness are of course deeply engrained in this here EP, but it turns out that テレノベラ only reserves room for these doubtful sentiments in the spoken word samples or yesteryear’s broadcasted events from South America. The patterns, textures and surfaces of the sound waves themselves defy the petrifying notion and are surprisingly upbeat, immediate and immersive.


The immersion layer is even increased later on, but for different reasons and with the aid of a shift: the dualistic mood of テレノベラ is maintained in the first battery of tracks, with the latter half becoming much more soothing and silky, even clandestine. It is here where plasticity and aforementioned immersion are tied to the Ambient factor, whereas on the first three tracks, apoplectic-histrionic synths clash with wildly adiabatic percussion serpentines. Perla Blue’s dualistic formula of soft haze and blazing synths ultimately prevents the feeble-minded verbiage of the telenovela format. Whether this is a missed chance or the sheet anchor for the cesspool’s potential victim cannot be decided here and now. But the simultaneity and omnipresence of テレノベラ’s antithetical poles make it a multinucleate EP for sure.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 111: Perla Blue – テレノベラ (2015). Originally published on Jul. 18, 2015 at