robot world EP : under the sun
robot world EP (released June 2, 2023 on Shore Dive Record) from under the sun is a tidy 4-track EP steeped in the nuanced sensibilities of the "shoegaze" genre. For those unfamiliar with shoegaze, it's a subgenre of indie and alternative rock that emerged in the UK in the late 1980s. It's characterized by its ethereal soundscapes, layers of distorted guitars, and vocals that blend seamlessly into the mix, creating a wall of sound that is both overwhelming and soothing.
The track titled "sunrise" is my personal favorite and is probably the stand out track. It is both beautiful and intriguing and I would share this track if I could only pick one. Each track explores similar auditory territories reminiscent of classic shoegaze but with a contemporary touch. There's a building wall of sound that sounds almost granular—a style not dissimilar to some of Aphex Twin's more ambient endeavors. Vocals and sounds are hidden within the texture, not quite discernible, imbuing the tracks with an almost foreboding quality.
While the EP doesn't strictly adhere to typical shoegaze conventions, its divergence is its strength. Vocals are sometimes inaudible, a nod perhaps to the genre's hallmark of submerged vocals, and the background noises, possibly influenced by artists like Boards of Canada, seem intentionally vague, adding an almost intangible quality to the music. It's as if these tracks are trying to communicate something just beyond the listener's grasp, making the experience all the more immersive.
There's a consistent trip-hop beat driving each track, a structure that explores one main sonic idea. Instead of following the classic A-B-A or verse-chorus format, each track offers a continuous building and swirling of sound. Each piece is about 4 minutes in length, maintaining the listener's attention just long enough to make an impact without overstaying its welcome.
Matt Catling's inspirations shine through, echoing sentiments and styles from legends like Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, yet without ever feeling derivative. There's a clear "sound" being developed here, one that's both nostalgic and forward-looking. As someone who appreciates ephemeral vocals or vocals with heavy reverb, I found the inaudibility of the lyrics to add a layer of mystery to the EP.
The artwork and track titles evoke an almost dystopian ambiance, hinting at a world both robotic and eerily automated. The choice to opt for such abstract musical storytelling over clearly defined lyrics, as found in mainstream pop, poses an intriguing question: In an age of automation, would a robot find resonance with these tracks?
Having been lost in each track and after the final track sunrise finished I felt that I wanted to hear full-length album, perhaps, or an hour-long live performance. fake[dac~] has a focus on "algorithmic" art forms, live coding, and VJ'ing in software mainly but its agnostic to technology, "Under the sun" demonstrates how modern music technology can facilitate the vision of a one-man band. It's evident that there's a blend of hardware, software, and algorithmic processes at play.
under the sun recommends
Matt Catling (aka under the sun) has given me a list of his recommendations for similar artists in the experimental and electronic scene that you might also want to check out. I think that his music has somehow bridged the gap between electronic/experimental and shoegaze & dream pop and I'm thrilled to share with you an insight into this exciting scene. There is plenty of music to check out if you looking for inspiration!
These are my recommendations in the experimental/electronic scene.- under the sun