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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Powered-Up Vaportrap: Blank Body's EXPLICIT DELUXE

This release stands out, even  among the recent crop of fine vaporwave, which is still the thing, btw, the active stream of underground online art. I was immediately attracted to the artwork when I saw it shared on facebook, and the colorful, dissonant funk of Explicit Deluxe lives up to the promise of its' cover.  It's futuristic and funky, without at all being future funk. There are no slowed down songs, no samples used.  Not entirely either vaporwave or trap, the music that straddles the borders of  those genres. But while so much recent vaporwave and trap has been obsessed with the past, this music is relentlessly forward-looking. It's a meaner,  tougher vaportrap. It acknowledges its' roots without repeating the formula. 

Formerly known as Bine, Blank Body's name may be a tip of the memetic fedora to vaportrap cousin Blank Banshee.  While he's been posting regularly to his Soundcloud for about a year, Explicit Deluxe is his debut release. A noisy and dissonant all-pervading synth keyboard and consistently inventive rhythmic  syncopation  define Explicit Deluxe's sonic aesthetic. It is trap without the affectation,  deriving its' menace from the inherent qualities of the sound rather than sampling and overt hip-hop references. There is an East-Asian theme lends an air of the exotic, and a Detroit techno influence that hangs over the whole set. 

The dynamic tracks never settle into predictable grooves, but develop in surprising directions.  The spectrum of variation in tempo and rhythm is represented, from the industrial techno of "L For L",  the unclassifiable and insane "Explicit" (featuring the moans of Liz Yordy, of spf420), the jungle drum & bass of "Carded 4 Nyquil", the shuffling dub of "Safe Hex 3", to the wicked trip-hop of "Oxtail". The tracks are carefully sequenced and should be listened to as a set. 

The psychic space described by Explicit Deluxe's clanging, restless music is a cybernetic dystopia, but one alive with mystery and unknown pleasures. This is not blue-pill yacht pop. It's music that seems to acknowledge the strangeness of a technologically immersed new world,  a world so disconnected from the past that an uneasy discomfort pervades. This is music for the 21st century. As I listened to the album with my after dinner pipe, I let go and let the highly visual music lead me...

A brand new hovercraft's autopilot beckons me sit down and buckle my seatbelt, the upper reaches of a neon-lit city are obscured with a diffuse mist. It speeds through the night-city, the lights glaring and blurring beautifully on the wet glass, before coming to an abrupt halt. A voice announces  that "You have arrived at your destination." I step out into an empty street. An attractive Asian woman seems to signal me. She is wearing a blue rose. She points at a doorway, and as I pass through you realize I am now outside under the stars of a clear sky, and a stairway leads to an ancient deep dream pagoda...

This is good music. It's powered up; it goes in. It has balls, if I may be excused for using a sexist metaphor, and depth, and that's something I think a lot of people are going to find attractive.  
You can purchase Explicit Deluxe by clicking the BUY link below or stream it from Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

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