Videographer, tee designer and digital druid STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ visits Johnstown, Pennsylvania by means of freshly crafted and purified sound waves and sees his nine-track album SΛCRED GRƟVE ƟNLINE at the local Ailanthus Recordings, digitally available and ready to be downloaded (name your price) or streamed at their Bandcamp page. The album encapsulates the very trademark sounds the artist is known for, ones which also found their altered way into Oscob/Digital Sex's OVERGROWTH (Dream Catalogue, 2015) prior to this release, and these are RPG forests, bleep-induced high-chroma driblets and bosky-bucolic vistas. Speaking of vistas: most – maybe even all – of STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ’s tracks include the manifold information and warning sounds of various Windows versions, and oh yes, has this ever been done before! But no need to groan: the vaporwaver is perfectly able to ennoble the pesky chimes and make them vitreous, diaphanous, translucent. Their rising and falling temperature in tandem with the little ditties make anthems out of commonplace specks. Residing between Vaporwave, Rave and video game memorabilia, SΛCRED GRƟVE ƟNLINE presumably worships the antagonistic pairings of nature/technology, analog/digital and fauna/mankind, but STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ doesn’t adhere exclusively to this formula. Here is a closer look at all of its nine tracks.


After the short Intro which has double the amount of seconds than the value of its runlet-underlined 8-bit bleep barometry comes the first dualism in the shape of Natural // Logon, a gorgeous Vaperror-esque pulsatile peritoneum with viscoelastic blips and ethereal backing synths. Artificial knuckle clicks, breakbeat patterns and a saltatory vincristine-alloyed kaleidoscope of Mellotron mica round off the fresh atmosphere of this mind-based jungle. The adjacent Dirac // Pond then is quite a bit more fragile, what with its molybdenized twinkles, piano pellets, tribal bongo blebs and desiccated military march aorta. The mood, however, is supercharged with wisps, it is just the thinly veiled cryo layers that add a certain coldness to the otherwise innocent scenery.


Meanwhile, Forest // Road absorbs the aesthetic of the former Dirac // Pond as it continues to place a – now hammering – duo of Italo pianos in an ophidian hi-hat glade. Darkness reigns in the background, but it is brightened and caulked by the prolonged afterglow of a lavabo light. This is, for better or worse, the most crestfallen yet energetic piece of STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ’s album. Digital // Citadel is quite different in the presentation of its physionomy, relying on arpeggiated beat bumpers, apocryphal vibraphone glints and rising swooshes. Oscillating between soothing contemplation and uplifting immediacy, this track turns out to be about a demotic digitalism… exactly what the artist promised by means of the track title. With Exile // Vagrant, we venture into the 90’s as seen through the 80’s, or what else to call the AOL messenger-infested jingle epithelia that cross the path of pitch-shifted Rave-isms that are grafted onto dark matter sinews and an eldritch-spacy punctilio. This is most certainly SΛCRED GRƟVE ƟNLINE’s darkest hour, but it remains ablaze with a tawny, albeit mis-chromosomed flares.


Yet again are the alluvial soils absorbed in a following song: Sacred // Grove shares many a sentiment with the former Exile // Vagrant, but its Rave rhizomes are now amethystine and rubicund, sporting and spawning a polyphonous chirality whose discordant reversely flowing cataracts lead to conniptive-crepuscular sunsets. This is no apoplectic Rave tune, it just shares the dubious Tartarean aura of the early 90’s. The arpeggio lives on forev-v-v-a. The penultimate Network // Echoes lets the album almost come full circle as STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ drops an oneiric signal marker from the Windows 98 era and places it in a pond of beat-accentuated benthic bubbles and nasty hydromagnesite. This is an ecomorph of a track, with its principal Windows-based helix reciprocating through slightly harsher contrapuntal fermions. Cyber // Sleep kisses the listener goodbye, and it is here where the bit-crushed evocation of a spy theme overwhelms the listener: an alkaloidal reticulation of pumping granulomae, bouncy and elastic, meets with various driblets and tetragonal humidity in 3/4 time.


STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ resists an all too tempting allure, and it is this achievement alone which lets his album tower above a certain concept. To be perfectly honest, and here’s the potential catch, SΛCRED GRƟVE ƟNLINE doesn’t inherit the stringency of its dualistic entities that are promised in all of its track titles bar the Intro. In lieu of easily recognizable anatgonistic cornerstones or elemental forces, the soundscape is neither torn between, nor torn apart by the ingredients, adjuvants and particles that bubble and ooze in the mephitic faux-jungle. This is not good versus evil, nature versus technology, at least not all the time at all costs. One tendency, however, can be pinpointed and hence be made a certainty: the Windows-based sounds are the good, soulful guardian lights in most of the tracks, always auspiciously cheerful and audaciously catchy, given their origin and heritage. The jungle is not totally neglected, but it is only an ancillary diorama for the textures, surfaces and muons to pointilize. If you’re fond of shifting Rave tercets, mucous retinues and a multinucleate interferometry, SΛCRED GRƟVE ƟNLINE is your sanctuary.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 118: Staqq Overflo – Sacred Grove Online (2015). Originally published on Aug. 19, 2015 at