Artist: Zanye East
Titles: Wish House & Teleport Station
Keywords: Pop, Crunkgaze, Ghost Folk, Post-Whatever, Saucer Step, Trianglecore, Future Footwork, Muwave, Nightstep, Post Pop
Reviewer: Alex “Blue Mage Extraordinaire” Spalding
.oO(Hello! It’s me, Alex, the bluest of magi here, communicating telepathically with you, reader! Yes, I wear this masque to hide my sensitive feelings! I’ve also got all the enemy skillz already, which we’re gonna need once this quest gets started.)
But, I’ll — ah!!! — oh, sorry, I startled myself with the sound of my own voice. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ll just talk to you normally like this from now on. We’re about to embark on a very dangerous, sexy mission… a fantasy, even, that will likely involve a bit of role-play. The plot will twist, turn, thicken, thin out and often digress into absurdity; characters will die, then later be brought back, shamelessly negating the emotional impact of their demise; the crystals, too, will divulge their dark secrets to us as we explore the wild, labyrinthine sounds of these two albums, drawing comparisons wherever they may be found. If you are ready… just press [start]…
… oh… there is no [start] button? Ok, then keep scrollin’…
… SHITGOBLIN! Er, I mean, shit, there’s a goblin! No, let’s not fight, let’s just run away, we don’t need the exp or the gil right now…
… ok, good, we’ve made it to the first track on the album Wish House! It’s titled ‘Newspeak’, and it casts an Orwellian spell that will leave you enchanted. A strangely ethereal and gritty mechanized rhythm rises, metrically displaced by the deep thrums of synth harmonics caked in distortion. Toward the very end, beeps can be heard between the cadence of the grimy bass.
Then we come to your ‘Future Girlfriend’. What’s she doing in this fantasy!? Oh… I guess that makes sense… elastic granular beatscapes ensue, vocals reverberate in an unknown space out of time. Over and under are bouncing, swelling analog sawtooth synth sequences, rubber band snaps worming their way into your head.
Track 3 is ‘Drunk Cops’ which features rADIO vRIL. There are some harsh noisy signals coming through during a radio report, then a cavalcade, hypnotic and terrifying grooves, haunting synths, vocals echoing from an exDEATHlike abyss.
On ‘Thought Police (NSA Privacy Settings Edit)’ Zanye East manages to summon a corrosive musical substance comprised of subtle, crunching digi-noise, permeated by completely fucked vocal feeds, bell and bass arps and wild, brainbending dry atmospheres. Wow.
Gary Numan is a Blueman now, as we roll into ‘Space Numan’, featuring an ‘Are Friends Electric?’ lead line, warped as if rebounded off an alien satellite. Contact has been made, followed by an inappropriate touching of our medulla oblongatas; there is danger of pineal prolapse with increased exposure to this music, a theory we must be willing to test for we are scientists, magicians and spoony bards.
The eerie electro-strangeitude of ‘Cyborg Mermaid’ is deathly infectious, like the breath of a Malboro. I feel like I’ve just woke up to find myself sitting on a moving carousel. Imagine how disorienting that would be! It seems to lurch uneasily like a sea-sick stomach. Still, less creepy than waking up in Minwu’s sex dungeon. It’s incredible sounding, very surreal and provocative.
‘Final Fantasy Trilla’ is a bit-corrupted groove… sizzling oscillations with vocal samples added. It feels like someone took a twerk anthem and zapped it with a special entropic laser that literally sucks everything into a grey void from which there is no escape, no hope, just rote lifeless repetition, a sick mockery of life; a cadaver on strings made to dance for our amusement — no! — worse, made to re-enact, in a mode of parody, every facet of its previous existence. Shinra must be behind this. They’re suckin’ the life outta the planet, Cloud! #@%*^$!!!
It’s also pretty terrifying to imagine being ‘Raped By Dolphins’. A voice that sounds like it’s been overcome by gurgling dial-tone modulations is set over a sparse rhythm of hats and snare taps. Suddenly, a hit of tense strings, a drone-flow like ice water in your veins. This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve heard… and I’ve heard a lot of bizarre things over the years.
Next is ‘Star Tropixx’, a broken-beat rhythm with subtle synth strings, a woman’s voice nestled within like a tiny glass pearl in a giant, obsidian clam. Wild modulations ring through… this is a phone you cannot answer, and we are left forever wondering who could be on the line.
As we arrive at ‘R.I.P. 2010’, chimes and sensual chill traces of grooves wither and fall. Then, there’s a kind of lofi 4/4 house groove and strange layers of Eastern flute and voices. Super seductive. A dinging ring mod bell pans left and right in our ears. Then, it breaks off into some kind of noisepunk thrash, which disappears just as suddenly as it came in to return briefly to the previous sounds.
We wander into a grove of sultry, dark jazztronica with the track ‘2WITCHY’, which I’m in love with. It feels like gnarled trip hop, a bramble of thorny cold r&b and pervasive attacks of uptempo out-of-sync house grooves, all of it cut and pasted together.
‘Put It Down (Ft. Brandy, Chris Brown)’ begins with heavily treated vocal samples, bringing in a wall of bass, all of it very screwed up, like Sephiroth’s relationship with his mother. A darkness creeps in as the music fades to a growing malignant pad effect. To a degree, much of this music reminds me of V/VM, but it’s less reliant on just one or two effective modern sound tricks, it’s reaching out there for something completely new and unheard.
The final fantasy on Wish House is ‘Atari Teenage Riot’. A noise wall of ATR samples… then some pizzicato strings? A damaged sound loop, some breakbeats, so many sounds it can be hard to tell what is happening. Music for feral children…
And now, before we move onto Teleport Station… please insert disc 2…
… right, right, there is no disc 2. Well, it’s a good thing we don’t have to worry about that! (you did save though, I hope?)
As promised, the task at hand will be to draw comparisons between the two albums, as many tracks on Teleport Station are remixes of works from Wish House and elsewhere… I’m ready, if you are!
Prepare for final battles that lead to even more final battles; spend countless hours of your life in side-quests that have no bearing on anything in the story; gather the ultimate weapons; level-grind until your fingers are pulp; write yaoi slashfic about all of your favourite characters!
First up, we have ‘Cyborg Mermaid (Argon Cowboy’s Argon Treatment)’! Sounds exciting… and it is! A lovely, dense bass tone throbs as vaporous rhythms begin to fill the spaces between. Some electronic effects, then we go into a deep, funky 4/4 groove that I’m really enjoying. It retains some of the strange experimentalism of the original… sort of… but feels like it’s rocking the dancefloor of my mind, the only one in which I have any personal clout… the only dancefloor that matters. Very groov-y!
The next track is ‘Star Tropixx (CANE SUGAR Stay Delirious Delirious Mix)’. I mistakenly typed that out as CANE SUGAR Ray, was thinking to myself, “wow that’s clever-ish”, only to realize it was all just a dream. I hear a little tonberry whispering to me in an incomprehensible staccatic language… there are breakbeats, some of them filtered, as well as warping synth string chord sequence. Prowling punch bass grooves… like you’re lowridin’ in the airship.
Thick bass groove sonics on ‘Raped By Dolphins (A V G V S T Remix)’! It’s very slo-mo feeling, like I’m on the run from espers in a Kefka-esque dystopia. Choirs of black magic… electro madness. This is so good. Some of these mixes are really nice. They’re missing what I feel to be the uncompromising spirit of the originals, unfortunately, but in the compromise I feel like they’ve soaked in and retained at least enough of the weirdness that they have been re-charged into something still very vital sounding, making them more appealing. They transmute the original pieces for body-dancefloor consumption; the tracks now possess a rhythmic husk with which they can be more easily absorbed by the human nervous system. They are still not “pop”, as most of The Golden Rules have not been adhered to, but they are definitely further along toward that (potential, if at all desirable) objective than the head-fuck dimensions presented on Wish House were.
Get ready to shake your Butz to ‘Thought Police (NO EYES Rework)’, which begins with a rhythmic short-run vocal sample onto which are layered furious hats and chiptune tones. It’s almost like speedcore electro, so bizarre sounding! Underground sounds, dwarven mythril metallurgy. It evolves toward the end into a stretched out, churning atmosphere.
‘Star Tropixx (R▲dio Vril Mix)’ gets heavy with some choppy, palpitating electro grooves. Underneath, we hear clips of recorded speech… very surreal. A gritty blast of feedback, then a really nice digital sequence, a new wave poly pad, sing-song vocals displaced. I feel like I’m sinking back, slowly swallowed in silk.
Strange synth tones travel octaves while tribal space patterns and a voice lull us into hallucinogenesis on ‘Final Fantasy Trilla (ENIX-INRI Rewerk). Then, gritty bass warps hit in the face like one of Sabin’s blitzes. There are some squelchy tones, the whole thing is sonically varied and wonderful, very mental.
Then, it’s ‘Bitch, I’m A Housewife (Original Mix)’. I, too, am married to the house; that 4/4 disco pump often flows through my blood stream, at least when I’m not listening to more aberrant rhythms — like the ones on this track. Distorted electro-industrial chip dust pours over us like a Dark Cloud. Vocals creep in… I don’t even know what’s going on anymore, this is so abstract, both in terms of sound and content! I love those slamming, gritty crunch toms, I feel like leaving the JRPG scene for a bit to play Double Dragon.
‘Fortress (SKULL:AXIS Mix)’ sounds more dark ambient, with wisps of rhythmic undertones, a buried cavernous voice. It is only fitting that our dungeon crawl might lead us here… good thing we brought plenty of phoenix down. It gradually fades…
… and then we come to the bright white wind of ‘Drunk Cops (Original Mix)’. The vocals are more prominent here, the sounds… extreme, varied, particularly later on where it feels like… an odd, whirling assortment of transfigured Doom music, NES warps, and some kind of Mark Mothersbaugh belltone melody.
‘Future Girlfriend (APBWAS Remix)’ sounds like corroded music being run through copper wire, until an electro house groove comes in! Then there’s this bassy, liquid Wasp acid synth that’s just awesome. The vocals feel alienated, mismatched.
There’s a digital bell tone at the start of ‘Nefertiti (2CB #BASED Mix)’, then we enter a kind of star ocean of distorted bass, garbled percussive noises, shaky voice samples. It’s a mad scientist’s pornodelic soundtrack… Hojo’s blojo at Costa del Sol.
‘Run, Clones (Kafka DJ Mix)’ brings back the house, pumping in various canned 4/4 grooves, cycling them out while noise and distressed vocals fill out the rest of the mix. Audio chaos, but not really one of my favourites.
Next is one I’ve been looking forward to in the tracklist all this time, ‘Lady In The Radiator Song (Cover Of David Lynch & Pete Ivers)’. I’ve heard a couple covers of this, one from the legendary Pankow and another… that I can’t really remember right now and don’t feel like trying to track down, all beside the original from the film Eraserhead, a classic of surreal horror. So, now I am excited and prepared to hear how Zanye East will subvert my expectations. It begins with a noisy drone and click pulses of bass. Deep within I hear a Siren… a swirl of drums, lasers… it’s very heady, spacy… an old phonograph record plays… it basically makes a playground of the vibes, presenting naught but shadows of the original.
On ‘Everything You Do Is A U.F.O. (Rework Of Music70/BOC)’… everything you do is a weather balloon, nothing more. You’re asking too many questions. I hear the familiar BoC synth tones, over which highly modified textures are added with rapid firing swamp gas modulations, re-configured tempos.
‘Cyborg Mermaid (Argon Cowboy’s Titans Of Siren Vocal Mix)’ takes us into the lifestream, a hissing, static-laden bass drone with stretched vocoded voice texture, lovely pads. Very nice! Transmission failure, we soar beyond the floating continent to a vast world covered in sea. This is one of the lengthiest tracks on either album, at just under 10 minutes! It manages to hypnotize for its entire run-time. The minutes seem to fly by, with its use of varied textures and evocative drones and digital burbles.
Next is ‘Butterfly Unchained (Cover Of The Smashing Pumpkins)’. There are vocals, lyrically familiar to anyone who’s heard the original, delivered in a strange and deadpan style. A mix-up of breaks and odd assorted electronic sounds are happening, including what could be a guitar buried under layers of peculiar effect mods.
Lastly, we come to ‘Things We Take (Mausoleum Mix)’… heavy rhythmic sounds, groaning distorted vocals, a dirge of rattling bass frequencies… a sound that could be a saxophone or a guitar, so difficult to discern from its harmonics. This is one of the best tracks on the album, the vocals smoky and haunting, layered both over and within the array of damaged drone. There’s something familiar about them, but I can’t place how or why.
We’ve made it to the end! All things considered, I feel like Teleport Station marks an improvement in form over Wish House, but both I think are required listening as the latter definitely features many superb moments in sound. I can’t recommend these albums highly enough, particularly for those of you who, like me, are craven for new and exciting realms of sound and production. 100 Cids approve. You can cast Teleport Station at the link below, provided you’re at a high enough level. Praise be to Yevon (and beware, the link is being guarded by Karl Boss)!