Pursuing Paradise
Adult Contemporary Novel






The Millennial Touchdown

… or let’s make it quasi-millennial, for there is a lot more to digest in Pursuing Paradise’s sophomore album Adult Contemporary Novel which leads listeners as far back as to the 12th century in one instance. Released on OSCOB’s label Bedlam Tapes in an edition of 50 tapes and an endless amount of digital incarnations available to fetch and stream at Bandcamp, the story of Adult Contemporary Novel is a great one to tell, even though it might not contain a particularly witty catch or wisdom. Basically, Max aka OSCOB is a huge fan of Jose aka Pursuing Paradise’s first album Memories, released in May 2014 on Business Casual, a Vaporwave album that is keener on post-2000 sample material than the otherwise ubiquitous 80's and 90's outings. Its front artwork features a kissing couple, which alone is probably more than enough to get Max’s attention. But in addition, and with all jokes aside, Max fell in love with the soundscapes, and invited Pursuing Paradise to release this here follow-up on his new label. The End. For them. Not for me, as my work is only starting right now. I’m not simply referring to this review: I’m much more talking about the listening experience, the urge to grasp the interconnections and cusps of the samples, even the basic premise of the album. Since it features another loving couple on its front artwork as well, I have a certain hunch. And indeed, the majority of the songs is about love, romance, the one relationship to outlast them all, but in a cool, stylistically diverse way, similar to a novel, with no tackiness or orchestral strings attached. Here, then, is a closer look at a few of Adult Contemporary Novel's 28 tracks, the ones which in my humble opinion consolidate and breathe three particular ingredients that make Pursuing Paradise's work so omniscient. 


 Jose's girlfriend illustrated the fictional book, Max envisioned the tape. Photograph by Max.


Pursuing Paradise’s Oxymoron: Oneiric Immediacy 

What we mean by that sophisticated subhead is the fuzzy sylphlike quality that is heard in many of Adult Contemporary Novel’s intrinsic gemstones… and then coupled with a saturated hue that makes the dream come true. A staggering punchiness is often entangled with lycopods of insouciance, making the chirality – i.e. the asymmetry between the primary mood and the mirrored or contrapuntal addendum – a eupeptic-apoplectic one. In addition, all of these tracks are about love, devotion and care, all of which traverse and touch Pursuing Paradise’s album time and again. Four exercises in oneiric immediacy shall be brought to attention: The 2nd Time I Fell In Love is a very suitable outro placed in the quasi-introductory spot, letting its badalamentilicious synth halides diffuse and flicker in the most enchanting way possible. There’s no real antagonistic element in here, but the lo-freq drone fundament is alluvial and profound. With More Than 1ne Night Stand, Jose brings a harp-like music box aorta into the foreground, or so it seems, as the periglacial hi-hats pseudo-scythe through the ether, adding a liveliness in tandem with the childlike female vox and pitch shifts that is vitalizing. With ・Not What You Think・, boy-meets-girl confessions are situated amid warm piano tones that are rounded off by helicoidal paraquat-drenched static noise lariats; a rather incisive interim end. And finally, Acceptance features a prolonged electric piano afterglow of peaceful tranquility that is placed in a cavernous muzak-oid Hip-Hop peritoneum whose catchy vocal hook burrows into the cochleae. Dreamlike and direct: that’s one important aspect of Adult Contemporary Novel.


Veils Of Vapor? Chroma Caper!

Pursuing Paradise is Jose's moniker that is reserved for more soulful, vaporized soundscapes (with Elevation Flex being the other, Drum'n'Bass-oriented one), so naturally there are tunes embroidered in Adult Contemporary Novel that are classical examples and exploits of the V-genre to the nth degree. In 100th Kiss, for instance, the artist injects a slowed-down guitar-driven Power Ballad and ameliorates it with flangered gases, vigorous loops and a concoction of several reverb levels which hint at Mallsoft, but stay away from any kind of consumerism by rather venturing into romanticism. ✧⁺˚The Bucket List is a quirkier and abrasive example, plunging a millennial Rock belter into an asbestus plasticizer so that the remainders are basically hunted through an alkaloidal guitar amplifier. This is not Vaporwave per se, but the tools and filters in use allow it to approximate the genre. And that’s the reason why this paragraph's subheading is created in the form of a question and answer: more often than not, Pursuing Paradise is about smoke and mirrors – akin to a caper – in lieu of just plain old smoke. The stokehold memorabilia of the mighty V are turned around, sometimes even dragged into a futuristic 4/4 corset: the histrionic No, I Need You. I'm Coming (Run Run RUN) is such a highlight with a heavily sizzling maraca baseline agglutinating arhythmic stop-and-go beat, sunset-colored Italo pianos, Moby-like Sunday School sermons and an adaxial velocity. This is dreaming on the highway, and so is Aσηє On A Cold Night which shuttles from a back alley ribcage over a Faithless-evoking recondite atmosphere to a tempo-shifting yttrium-alloyed surrealism in the veins of Renjā.


WYSIWYG Arse About Face

The above example of Aσηє On A Cold Night is a prime marker for another tendency, and excuse my bad attempt at the above British colloquialism in the wake of rising excitement when it comes down to this: Adult Contemporary Novel shapeshifts its way to diffeomorphism. There are several tracks whose start differs from their ending which – on a micro level and per-song basis – both engenders and annihilates criticism about song x, sample y and texture z not being Vaporwave. If one can potentially be bewildered about and likewise enchanted by a certain song, then you don’t need to imagine how Adult Contemporary Novel feels as a whole. Another quartet of tracks is mentioned here to showcase the transmuted suprematism of Pursuing Paradise: while This Is ƁƖιѕѕ launches with post-Synth Pop lozenges and slows them down as expected only to then unexpectedly squeeze a glissando-heavy guitar encore to the endemic epithelium, NEW BEGINNING is about the same trick, using a seagull-coated ballad chintziness only to then relieve the pain with a salubriously hazy flashback into the earliest 90’s, Orbital’s Belfast, itself relying on Hildegard von fucking Bingen’s O Euchari from 900 years ago. Several centuries in one song: too much or just right? During the latter stages at l(e)ast, Pursuing Paradise makes these mashups his forte: Love Poems unites – by actually separating – a fusillade of benedictions (thank you for existing) with looped wordless pop star moans, whereas Hold My ̲̲H̲̲a̲̲n̲̲d̲̲ turns from glistening 3/4 oxidants over a raucous Shoegaze vociferation to the most basic sine tone and probably encapsulates the circle of life of the Occidental Generation Y. 


Zestful Zoetropes

With Adult Contemporary Novel, Pursuing Paradise has pieced together the fibroblasts of Memories and augmented all of their loosened ends, ancillary links and intermediate pieces with ever-more constituents from the world of Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop and other genres that are larger than life. Granted, these elemental forces – for these genres are big enough to call them that – make their way into the vapor zone more often than not. As you read these lines, 30 new Hip-Hop-accentuated Vaportrap tunes are uploaded and made available on at least as many SoundCloud accounts. However: this observation is no fainting fit, let alone a literal syncope before the current state of music. In fact, it is used for reasons of proselytizing, to acknowledge the fea(s)t that is Adult Contemporary Novel when it comes to the various ties, alliances and correlations the Vaporwave genre is able to absorb. Here, absorption is but the initial step; restoration and renewal are the keys. The vast amount of samples, segues, loops and material from somewhere else is overwhelming, and it usually comes with a price: a lack of coherence. Even Pursuing Paradise cannot overcome fighting with contingency, but he does his best to not only agglutinate the variety of sources… he also leads them back to the specific washed out luminosity of Vaporwave. And even if it is just filters, ring modulators and other tricks that are used to make a lilting memorabilia out of a brand new millennial song, the artist somehow circumvents the gaudy or angered flavor of the original and makes the accretion of aeriform interferometry possible. Into the gravitational vapor redshift, I say; but it has to be concocted by Pursuing Paradise!


Further listening and reading: 


Vaporwave Review 128: Pursuing Paradise – Adult Contemporary Novel (2015). Originally published on Oct. 6, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.