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Local Music Reviews


Street: 01.21
ARCHAIC FUTURISTS = The Prodigy + HEALTH x Bandai Namco Entertainment + Walt Disney Studios’ 1983 special “Where the Toys Come From” 

Y’know, on the ridged back of the music industry’s unpredictable currents, there are certain music projects that are driven more by sensory disruption than actual word-ship. Instead of unveiling an interwoven story with each ear-biting lyric or heartbroken drone, some albums build another Earthly trip through a past we wish we could’ve experienced … or a history we hope not to repeat. And that’s exactly what ARCHAIC FUTURISTS aims to reckon with. The Tubby Custard pink and ocean-core aquamarine of the vaporwave aesthetic is clouded by dark television static and phantasmic 8-bit moans with AN EXERCISE IN HUMAN ERROR. 

First-time listeners, whether the music comes through wireless headphones or the crackle of a Panasonic SA-AK330 cassette player, should proceed with caution. The track “SLUM LORD” begins in low Geiger counter beeps; it’s barely noticeable for the first ten seconds. Thoughts of “What am I even listening to?” or “What kind of drugs does it take to enjoy this?” might flutter around, but after your immersive second runthrough, the rhythmic taps get you. The drum-thrudding from their retro synthesizer feels like discovering New Order in 1980, synchronized with your heartbeat. It’s as if Slick and Ivan from Hobo with a Shotgun bagged you in the back of their ivory Bricklin SV-1 to take you on a neon-sploshed peregrination of bloodlust and adrenaline. 

The standout tracks like “SAUCE” and “DEEP SOUTH” both implement an almost tribal sound bite sampling. “SAUCE” ends its seven-minute rat race of beats and laser beams with a jumpscare of robotic screams. “DEEP SOUTH,” on the other hand, untangles the sheep-following consequences of blind religion by inserting “Thank you Jesus / Thank you Jesus” to nearly unlistenable density. “LIES” also unravels topics of faith with the 10-minute runtime intercepted by what sounds like Peter Popoff delivering one of his televised sermons: “And you’ll need to make a vow of faith for a thousand dollars.” It’s the type of black label mixtape that keeps you flinching between every song break.

As much as I want to praise this deathbreak album for how experimental and absolutely bonkers it is (because it passes the vibe check), my biggest hangup is the repetitiveness. Sure, some tracks have that audible pizzazz perfect for full-blown ragers at The Great Saltair or in the cocktail-crusted basement corners of Quarters Arcade Bar, but tracks like “HUMAN WASTE” keep the same methodology as “SLUM LORD.” No real change between the intermissions; no dips in the rapid-fired electronics. It’s just the same speedy “wacka-wacka” pacing that shows up constantly, like someone is fingering your eardrums with a dialed-up jackhammer. Maybe some of their audience actually digs the lack of diversity—a quick boost for running on the treadmill or a feel-fix for pregaming a chaotic night. However, your average listener needs a little more. I thought I was developing “Lavender Town Syndrome” from the chiptune reruns halfway in.

AN EXERCISE IN HUMAN ERROR is … something. I can see the direction that ARCHAIC FUTURISTS was taking with this album, but it didn’t quite make it to the destination.  I can clearly make out the critiques on major modern issues such as consumerism and religion, merely slingshotted from ‘80s counterculture. ARCHAIC FUTURISTS wanted their release to be their Polybius—an urban legend monolith wringing the youth with a graphic assault on the human condition. However, with the resources they are provided—and only seeing the tip of its full potential—AN EXERCISE IN HUMAN ERROR feels like it’s been reduced to a 4-bit Game & Watch. –Alton Barnhart

Read more local vaporwave reviews:
Local Review: Ophelia – Like a Lover
Local Review: Mooninite – Lightworks