Elements (Godaï 五大)






Once Upon A Time, There Were Five Friends

Elements (Godaï 五大) is the latest EP by Belgium-based synth artist Grisfx, stylized as ♅ GRISFX ♅, digitally released on everyone’s favorite future reserve label AMDISCS as run by Rado Z and available to fetch at their shop. The basic premise is absorbable right by the first look of things: this is a concept EP dedicated to the four basic Far Eastern elements, with a fifth and often neglected one thrown in for good measure. The concept itself is as well-known as most of the elements themselves, so it is all the more surprising – and in a good way, I might add in advance – that Grisfx doesn’t do the elements justice, but rather transfigures and amends their often cursed and calamitous states, making it more soothing and open to scrutiny. This eventually leads to a very contingent listening experience, with all of the tracks sharing certain basic, well, elements and cornerstones that are held together by gorgeously enthralling synths. This release is neither volatile nor violent, Ambient is as important a factor as that certain V-genre, so without further ado, I dive deeper into the five elements below.


CHI 地 (Earth)

The majestic beginning of rotenone-alloyed synths lasts for only about one second before the legato lure turns into an elasticized lozenge of Rave-like chord patterns. Soon enough, suave ninja wisdoms are dropped over an equally apoplectic-bubblicious beat aorta whose pulsatile pyroxene-crushing silicate becomes united with an equally stuttering carbonaceous stokehold atmosphere. Despite this being the Earth song, CHI 地 reciprocates between a sanguine-amethystine heaviness and crackling loftiness; there’s even vitreous bells and square lead sirens in here during the second half of the song. Vaportrap and Ambient united: only on Earth.


SUI 水 (Water)

And now for a much more debonair-lacustrine flow: right from the get-go, SUI (Water) enchants with silky synth washes, vesicular blebs and fermions and a synth choir-trained seraphic stratum that wafts through a glaucous-cerulean antrum of benignant mysteries. The phototropism of the arrangement is most impressive, as polyphonic allure and rumbling basslines form a unison resemblant of Vaperror’s Mana Pool (Dream Catalogue, 2014). The best thing of SUI (Water) to me is the ever-soothing physiognomy, the phoresy of the driblets and scattered helictites traveling around the implied cavernous ribcage. Pectiniform suprematism, refreshing and salubrious.


KA 火 (Fire)

It is only natural for KA (Fire) to sound more punchy and adiabatic, especially so since the heat comes from within the center of the flare. It’s a biomorphic one though, as Grisfx ennobles electropositive nucleus of the adaxial synths with swooshing sporophytes whose afterglow augment the feeling of faraway travels and chirality. It is these sustained magnetotails that give the song a certain graceful edge, and even though the Belgium-based producer makes sure to add acidic pads and beat-fueled phragmoplasts, the fire-based retinue oozes along, seems strangely mucous, thickly wadded within the soundscape. It might well be that this fire has been tamed and is now controlled ad inifinitum. And where there’s fire, there’s vapor.


FU 風 (Wind)

This thermal cathexis is the aeriform equivalent to SUI (Water). That would be the description in a nutshell. Completely freed of any care and insouciant to the maximum, FU (Wind) introduces an electro-acoustic aurora to the endemic styles of the presented elements. Harp-like twangs and nylon strings glisten in a nebula of galactosamines. The song is one big ecomorph that transmutes from an Ambient state over Dub kineticism to a wondrously celestial centriole. The droning bassline might be perceived as a bit over the top, but the opposite may also ring true: it functions as the gravitational foundation for the winds to remain in the audible sphere. Once more I’m glad that Grisfx builds up the pace slowly and with care. The result is thus enchanting, a holarctic megafauna that ostracizes both gusts and guts.


KU 空 (Space)

As the aural endpoint of the Elements (Godaï 五大) EP, KU (Space) is ignited, an element that is usually forgotten and even abandoned when the elemental quartet is considered. This is not the fifth wheel on the wagon though! This is once again a non-pretentious camphene-accentuated fibroblast. Yes it’s true, Grisfx has a few stereotyped ingredients sewn into the hieratic wideness, the best example being the countdowns and ignition commands and probably the overly mystified cloak-and-dagger enigmas that are spawned by the synths and finally the arpeggiated shock-and-awe shuffles, but all of these instances have the fans of Space Ambient fully covered. In fact, it is the second half where the synths emanate epistemology and solace aplenty, glistening diaphanously in the vacuum, radiating panchromatic colors without any histrionic-cinematic complexion. A superb endpoint.


The Sixth Element: Grisfx’s EP

All five elements combined become the sixth element that is known as Elements (Godaï 五大), and from a cohesive viewpoint overlooking the five principal tracks, it turns out that Grisfx has gotten hold of a golden thread that can be pinpointed both on a per-track basis and throughout the whole EP. Technically speaking, every one of the tracks is arranged in such a way that it gives plenty of room for Trap basslines and a related lo-freq punctilio. In tandem with the floating synths, a kind of energetic stasis is created, and once this train of thought is grasped, we enter the realm of aesthetics which are themselves entirely stringent and perfectly in order as the EP progresses. This is not just a collection of songs based on the five elements, no: Elements (Godaï 五大) is ipso facto a real EP with a holistic concept, nutritious surfactants and unexpectedly lilting constituents. The beginning is a tad too apocalyptic or portentous, but I give Grisfx that, for what happens next is a journey through lactic-caproic phytotelemata and plasmatic immersions that enmesh Ambient with Vaporwave, followed by their subgenres and styles such as Space Ambient and Vaportrap. An EP for one’s sensorial apprehension.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 114: Grisfx – Elements (Godai 五大) (2015). Originally published on Aug. 4, 2015 at