Adaxial Roots, Ancillary Roads

Seattle, Washington-based 회사AUTO is a weathered veteran of the Vaporwave genre, having concocted and released one dozen albums and a zoetrope of tracks for various labels, but recently he turned the perihelic closeness to the V-genre on its head and now comes up with a polysemous work that is so colorful and hypertimbrical that the futurism of the front artwork and even the soundscapes themselves needs to move into the hindmost layer more often than not: enter 仙Android, the fourteen-track amalgamation of organic and synthetic ingredients released on Dream Catalogue in an edition of 100 tapes. Released in September 2015 and available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp as usual, 회사AUTO comes up with a work that seemingly embraces and utterly demands the denotation of a concept album, and indeed, Dream Catalogue is the home of many a concept album that targets a certain style, idea or even subgenre with utter care and devotion, with a clear beginning and antagonistic endpoint. It was most bewildering to me to find out that 仙Android actually doesn’t belong to these kinds of works, and that’s a boon in this here case. The reason for this will be unraveled over the course of this review, but it is most certainly not a lack of skill or missing craftsmanship! Over the following paragraphs, I am going to point out three(-ish) elements that constitute the listening experience of 仙Android – and they differ strikingly from the set expectations, and this alone makes the album an intriguing artifact to begin with. And, of course, there’s more…

Gregarious Glissando Slides / Ethereal Entities

One crucial cornerstone that appears throughout 仙Android more often than not – considering the strikingly diffeomorphological state it is willed to let rise and flow – is the focus on sweeps and slides of euphonious, at times even hymnic legato washes. These tone sequences breathe cenobitism and oneiric visions and illumine even the more recondite steampunk corners of the release. Slight droplets of these wafting melodies are still graspable, but they are held together by the glissando glue, letting them appear more fluvio-lacustrine than cryovolcanic. What a coincidence that Cryochamber, the second track, addresses this potentially frosty subtopic, but annihilates it right from the get-go with magnanimous lavabo plateaus that majestically swirl around a pulsating breakbeat aorta. There are colder elements in here such as the molybdenized Angkor Wat chimes, but there’s no denial: warmth is exuded aplenty. The adjacent Numb. 18 meanwhile is even more euphoric as it places lilting fibroblasts of salubrious thermal immersion circulator melodies around a soft hi-hat-accentuated flaring, making one’s vision all blurry. Tears of joy could be one possible reason. Another example for the cutting-edge ethereality of 仙Android is its sixth constituent: WASH-35 is clearly a softly simmering glitter proteostasis in lieu of a fully legatofied entity, but the plasmatic globs, fluid-processed pectiniform synths and crystalline polymers make it a viscoelastic liquid of mana nonetheless. Seriously: these three examples radiate one of the most blissful timbres in Vaporwave.

Gelid Glitch, Subzero Hours 

A bit off the harmonious vitalism is the pulmonary defiance of Glitch, or vestiges thereof. 회사AUTO is in the game long enough to augment certain segues or whole songs with cautiously catatonic static noises and asbestus fusillades. In 仙Android, however, these devices serve the purpose of enlightenment. In classical Glitch, abstractly rotoscoping convolutions jitter and juggle along, with the listener waiting for synthetic melodies to protrude the cubic wireframe. In this here case – and because 仙Android only draws from Glitch in lieu of embracing it wholeheartedly – the results are naturally quite a bit colder, more mechanical, with the threshold to metalization crossed from time to time. The organic superconductivity though is never left out of sight. The following three examples are hence macronutrients in an icosahedral world. Let’s start with IpVic 22436e whose autechre-ism is only depicted in the title; in reality, or the reality as created by 회사AUTO, it is an enchanted vitreous cavern full of seraphic circumambience, lacunar microbes and carbonaceous whistles, thus bringing Ambient and Vaporwave ever-closer together, a trend that has started to prosper on a certain dream-focused label. By contrast, Chem. Shower is proud to showcase its glitchier gluons in the limelight: a hustling city stroller beat runs across a plethora of proselytizing bubbles, blebs and vesicles, some of them electrified, others still purified. The periglacial atmosphere becomes enmeshed with the aesthetics of a heating system circulating pump, and we don’t want it any other way. Dolphin 5 (Pmac SEVc) is the final example of 회사AUTO’s glitchier titration, only that it is mightily melodious, with the punctilio of the pristine melody being the only ingredient. It still reminds of Glitch due to the frisky eclecticism note-wise. The textures themselves let everything appear in technicolor.

Tropical Telomeres Adrift On Asphalt

The technicolor aspect brings us to the tropics, and granted, the tropics are one of Vaporwave’s favorite tropes, and I for one am able to absorb them in 仙Android  too. Maybe it is the colorful front artwork with the saturated contrasts, but I do feel certain particles of the Coldwave and Outrun styles running through the veins of the android. A look at Chimera 6 Merger reveals an interesting aspect that is usually found in Future Funk phoresy/poetry: a four-to-the-floor beat. While this beat is mercilessly amplified and interpolated by 회사AUTO with the aid of parallax acid and punchy orogenies, the basic physiognomy still feels like a fast moving vehicle. The kaleidoscopic melody and glistening barycenter make the comparatively straight buildup most exciting, there’s glitter, isospins and magnetotails everywhere! Then there is KR-3, a cerulean night serenade with apocryphal harp tones stashed away in the abiogenesis of alkaline cuts and their acidic pendants. The tropics find their way into the holarctic atmosphere regardless by means of marimbalicious progenitors. And finally, at least to sum up the tropical streets, is Floodhead 33ECO which is about a beat-accentuated marching band that marches through the chaparrals and coppices of the mind. From the barrel organ chemotaxis over the diaphanous polarimetry to the revved up rhythm spectrometer at the end, this one offers a different kind of movement, but magnanimously unveils the same kind of amicable warmth.

The Night Is Glowing On

Describing the allure of 회사AUTO’s 仙Android in a nutshell is quite the task, and yup, so you’ve noticed. The entanglement of human and robotic features, organic fears and technocratic feats rolls through popular culture, and granted, 회사AUTO has encapsulated these chances and uncertainties in his album for Dream Catalogue. But here is the gist, the pericarp of it all: he didn’t tone down the battery of gorgeous melodies, accessible positrons and brightening chromophores just in order to put them into the corset! This isn’t a classical concept album in the strictest sense. It’s not about a human whose mind turns increasingly mechanistic. This might be the basic idea alright, but the realization is focused on the music. There is no room for perturbation or anxiety in 仙Android, at least it is much less room than you might imagine from the erudite liner notes. I can safely state that there are sunlit particles and colorful fermions even in the latter stage of the album. There’s not even a tendency of going dark or getting more portentous: 仙Android remains in the healthy light, whether it features aliphatic beat complexion, the tasteful obliquity of Vaporwave or the homeostasis of Ambient. The night is somewhat always perceptible, but it is a neon night, filled with the East Asian futurism the artist targets. If you want a melodic Vaporwave album that is nocturnal, glitchy and chock-full of enthralling textures, surfaces and patterns, 회사AUTO’s tropopause called 仙Android is a mighty good choice.

Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 126: 회사AUTO – 仙Android (2015). Originally published on Oct. 1, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.