Get Refreshed: Going Past The Spine, and The Importance of Having Fun

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Nick D’Apolito

and most importantly, quinn is having fun

If you think you have any sort of read on quinn’s artistic status, that’s a flat-out lie; the thing is, no one really knows quinn in this sense. Why? Because she genuinely operates on a different plane of existence than the rest of the music world. Each and every new offering is a top-to-bottom cleansing of all assumptions placed on her based on what fans heard last, and because she’s, well… quinn, of course she tops herself with each of these successive releases, no matter the style, no matter the genre, and no matter the approach she takes in confronting whatever it is. 

So don’t say you really know quinn as an artist, I certainly don’t. What I do know, however, is that she’s pretty damn good at following her advice. Because her latest single and accompanying video entitled “and most importantly, have fun” is easily her most pleasant and amusing track in a good while, and it absolutely kills as a result of this. Though retaining the crazed, raucous drum patterns seen in her recent dance-centric output, this track sees quinn stepping into brand new musical lights in a variety of ways. She can now check an addicting g-funk synth riff, an expertly placed “Award Tour” sample, and an inconspicuous pandemic-referencing interlude off of her endless list of things to do this year with her art. 

All of these facets combine to create one of the most enjoyable singles of the entire year — one that sees quinn reaching something of an ideal balance between accentuating the best aspects of mainstream online music and her fervent desire to experiment with and progress her artistic freedom to its non-existent limits. 

Oh, and she’s having fun doing it too. That’s what’s most important, remember?

Kasper Gem: “Under, Other”

Another week, another song in this column produced by Tgwog and Litothedon. It’s become a routine at this point, and for good reason; they are easily 2021’s most impressive production duo, and seldom others come to mind as to who could even challenge for that title. Any working artist – within the digicore scene or otherwise – would see their track taken to next level by hopping on a beat from these two, and by extension, this notion makes whoever they intend on working with feel that much more special.

That’s why their recent collaboration with Kapser Gem makes all the sense in the world, because for as gifted as those two are in the production world, Kasper is just about as gifted of a performer as they come. “Under, Other” sees these three at their creative peaks collectively, as one would obviously suspect as being the case given their combined talents. While featuring the ever-present majestic and luscious sonic environment that Tgwog and Lito create with each instrumental they come through with, this track casts them in the background far deeper than their previous work has. This is for one reason and one reason only, I presume: Kasper Gem needs room to breathe, and even more room to perform.

So they gave him this room, and of course, Kasper did his thing. His “thing” in this instance is coming through with just another manic, off-kilter, yet remarkably entertaining vocal performance full of absurd one-liners, unsuspecting growls, and an overall charm that no other act in his lane could ever dare to match. Instead of conforming to the style of work that Tgwog and Lito are best known for, Kasper took everything into his own hands by instead translating this style into his own language — a language that is more than likely only spoken and understood to its fullest extent by Kapser himself. 

Two Masters Of Collaboration Finally… Collaborate

I am ridiculously confident in the following belief: the ever-present backbone of digicore – and nearly all forms of modern online music, at that – is its producers. This isn’t even solely due to their work in a strictly-upfront sense either, though the incredible work behind the boards should never be understated in any sense. Rather, this belief hinges upon a certain point that I feel goes unnoticed by the masses — the simple fact that most of these producers are just as gifted on the mic and as overall performers as they are, well, in producing by itself. Above all else, this status fosters an all-too-heightened sense of collaboration with these acts by way of their seemingly limitless arsenal of talents they can display in any given instance. 

So for as longwinded as that remark came off, I wanted to make sure it was clearly stated as such. Because there exists no two artists who better represent these previous statements more than blackwinterwells and dltzk — two of the most obviously gifted producers in this scene who impress just as much as performers in their own right, and as constant forces of collaboration all the same. In saying this, it’s just so surprising that it took this long for the two to come together for a track by themselves; perhaps they were both too busy working with others… 

Regardless, we can be happy that they did finally meet up for a single of their own, because “PUNCHING BAG” exceeds even the loftiest expectations one could have for a single out of these two. Split between separate portions of production – with dltzk producing the track’s first half, and Wells taking over after a beat switch – this is an overall magnificent offering that goes above and beyond based on its instrumental prowess alone. But one can’t forget Wells’ always-outstanding presence on the mic either, and that status is as true as can be with this track as expected. We have here one of their most instantly memorable hooks yet, and the way their subdued delivery seeps into the raucous production beyond just the chorus takes this track to new heights of acclaim. 

Again, it makes all the sense in the world that all of this would be the case, given the acumen of both present acts. I just find it so confounding that this collaboration took so long to materialize given how similar these two are in their artistic makeup and overall status. 

Vague002: Past The Spine

Experimentation in electronic music is and always will be a given for the genre. But honestly, it’s almost too obvious to even point this out, which is exactly why “experimentation” by itself is no longer impressive on its own. But I am bringing it up here for one reason and one reason only: an act like Vague002 is one of a very select few in the online electronica landscape that transcends experimentation into something that might just be indefinable. And for all of those who have had the pleasure of experiencing the Vague leader and Eldia Records mainstay’s past work, they would be remiss not to completely agree with such a statement. I’ve never come across an act who can make all things obscure seem entirely realized, fleshed-out, and vivid as he can, and that covers a great deal of ground in regards to the wide-open world of electronic acts working today.

That belief rings ever-so-true with Past the Spine — his immensely anticipated follow-up to 2019’s Terminal Aware. This 11-track exhibition into the deepest depths of dark electronica is, yet again, another exemplary display of his ability to make the undefined seem as comprehensible, and above all else, as real as can be. Each song here features its own cast of biting synths, crushing percussion, and an endless amount of other contributing elements that lace these already-dense tracks with an even greater amount of instrumental weight. 

The unquantifiable attention to detail in this light is just downright outstanding, but what should not be lost in any discussion of this album is its flair for the emotional. Tracks like the opening “Trauma,” the bursting “Chaos Core,” and the vocal-centric “You Can Die Later” (the most emotionally effective moment in all of this, in my eyes) are all brooding, yet full-of-life experiences that work to tell this album’s fittingly ambiguous story at hand. Going back to how Vague002 is able to convey clarity through even the haziest of sounds, telling such a story in this manner and, by extension, providing the electronic music world with among its most developed album experiences of the year is an accomplishment that anyone would expect out of an act like him. Does that make it any less impressive, any less astonishing, or any less glorious? The answer is, of course, a defiant no to all of those questions. Past the Spine reaches heights that experimental electronica only sees every once in a blue moon, and it blissfully capitalizes on the lengthy period of anticipation brought forth in its rollout.

4am: “top tier”

After one of his lengthiest breaks thus far in his young career, resident hitmaker 4am has finally returned with a brand new single on his main page. While we all missed the consistent output of one of online music’s most extraordinary talents, it’s safe to say that this period was extremely well-needed and well-spent based on the resulting product we have here with “top tier.” The typically prolific act used this time to brighten their already shining gifts as a vocal performer — exactly what fans would want to see out of a return in this manner.

But perhaps “shining” isn’t quite the best way of describing what someone like 4am brings to the table in this regard; despite how outstanding his work always is – especially this fine-tuned single in itself – its ominous, foreboding sonic environment leaves absolutely no room for any sort of brightness. And this is all fine and good, because if anyone could call themself “a master of the lowkey,” 4am can certainly do so at this point. 

“top tier” sees him displaying this fact in its most visible regard yet — his one-note, obscured flow is gripping from start to finish, and its understated delivery is made that much more engaging by way of instantly memorable songwriting and an appropriately dark instrumental by the trio of Follow, Raio, and fk. 

Sometimes a little time away can make the biggest difference in the world, and the simple fact that 4am is sounding as amazing as he ever has to this point just cements this belief in stone. 

Fresh Links

Help Iphi and Her Family Cover Medical + Other Pressing Expenses 

Help Orchid Pay Her Psychiatric Bill

Help Vague002 Recover From A $4,000 Theft

Read and Support Passion of the Weiss

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