If online music’s limitless boundaries were to symbolize any single notion in regards to its own working status, it would have to be the fact that there’s no such thing as “too much” anymore. Today’s online acts are able to freely string together as many genres, scenes, and collaborative showcases as they’d like, and if the product is resounding enough, nuanced enough, or just downright effective as a standalone creation, it becomes yet another contributing piece of evidence to the above belief as it is.
I could go on and on about the pure and utter freedom of the online music world, but that would be pretty damn boring after a while (even that intro paragraph… pretty boring, yeah?). So just like with most, if not all forms of art, it’s always better to show, not tell. And fittingly enough, resident super-producer and all-around musical exhibitionist Maple just dropped an all-encompassing project that does a lengthy amount of showing… 20 tracks worth of showing, that is.
PLASTIC SURGEON is an hour-long romp through just about every scene this remarkable act has operated in throughout the past few years. Ranging from traditional trance, to ever-present happy hardcore, and right down to the future-leaning digicore scene, Maple was able to capture the past, present, and future of digital music in one cohesive package. Doing this as freely as they did, they were able to bring the absolute best out of each featured act here, regardless of their respective scene as well.
This idea of creative freedom goes hand-in-hand with Maple’s own sense of ambition going into this project; to say that these two artistic facets combined to create a masterful full-length effort would be selling even an album is grandiose as this far too short. When your environment – the digital world, this case – allows for you to essentially do whatever you want, however you want, and with whoever you want, how could you not capitalize on that?
Well, it takes a lot of curatorial talent and effort to do so, and Maple is just one of a select few who can lay claim to the title of “master curator.” And with that, this project will certainly go down in history as one of this particular era of Internet music’s most tell-all and conclusive offerings.
angelus + d0llywood1: “blocklist”
Ahh, nothing like a good throwback, right? For as relentless as most digicore acts are in striving towards the future – with both their sound and overall artistic stature all the same – it’s always nice to harken back to the days where they were all still developing what’s now being wholly considered “pop’s next evolution.” Even though these “days” are still pretty visible in our rearview, scene leaders angelus and d0llywood1 have come a long, long way since even the waning days of 2020.
Yet via the former artist’s alt-SoundCloud page titled “homesick,” we were treated to what can only be considered an entirely updated version of the scene’s developing era with “blocklist.” Over a glistening and gracious instrumental provided by zetra and georgie, these two pop superstars do what they’ve always done best: living up to such a title. While their recent output has cemented this belief in stone, their heightened pop sensibilities are on full display here in all aspects, perhaps just presented in a far more primitive manner than what we are used to today.
Given the unmatched talents shared between these two, however, that’s nothing even close to a bad thing. Angelus’ sweetly-sung hook contrasts beautifully with the direct, no-nonsense energy that Dolly laces her own performance with — these elements combining to create a track that exemplifies the backbone that their own-fostered scene now stands so mightily upon today.
Releases like this should remind us all that, for as fun as it is to speculate about the future of these progressive online scenes, it’s just as fun to reminisce and appreciate the past work that helped us reach the present as it stands right now.
It’s rare for an artist to make their music sound “special” without doing anything explicitly… special. Sometimes an act can transcend the idea of lengthy experimentation and simply make their music sound effortlessly nuanced; it’s an accomplishment that’s seldom seen, sure, but one that’s been executed to an absolute tee by rising pop outfit orchid time and time again.
Eldia’s resident vocal standout achieves this feat through her all-too-unique status as a performer: be it her just as lively as it is understated vocal style, her enigmatic and biting songwriting sensibilities, and right down to sheer untapped atmosphere that each of these aspects combines to create with each successive offering. Put simply, no one can match what orchid can do, despite these artistic features being as down-to-earth as they come.
Her latest single “blame” is just about as spotless as an orchid track has ever sounded — exuding these aforementioned features to their highest points yet. They all present themselves in such a vivid fashion throughout the song’s first half, while its second is reserved for a repeated refrain that serves as easily orchid’s most memorable hook yet.
That memorable trait extends to the rest of the track from an overall standpoint; this is unquestionably the most effective release thus far in her catalog, and it’s all due to how much of a natural orchid is at mastering the simplest aspects of nuanced pop music and taking her best features to their respective limits.
Great On Their Own, But Certainly BetterTogether
One of the most euphoric feelings an observer of music can ever experience is the sheer power of artistic chemistry coming to life. When two or more like-minded acts are as in-tune as can be, with the music they produce following suit in an all-too-effective fashion, the forceful nature of the resulting product is too immense to ever underestimate as a music listener. And as far as this year is concerned, I’ve yet to experience a more “euphoric” sense of creative chemistry between any single cast of artists as vividly as what BetterTogether’s trio of Outback, jacksonl0ve, and tuchscreen just recently gave us in the form of “Turbine.”
The eclectic electronic collective selected just three of its absolutely spotless roster – and a fourth when you consider the outstanding artwork provided by 3D designer Garonganut – to produce one of the 2021’s most awe-inspiring singles across any and all genres. Every single angle this track has in store features these select acts colliding with each other in the best ways imaginable — with Outback and jacksonl0ve’s blisteringly dense soundscape is just as upfront as the vocals provided by the latter figure as well as tuchscreen themself.
Each of these elements are elevated to their highest limits simply due to how comfortable these three longtime collaborators are with each other; the track’s multi-dimensional sonic atmosphere and structure alike prove this fact in full. This makes for an amazing standalone offering by itself, of course, but it also goes to show how apt BetterTogether as a whole is in serving as one of progressive electronica’s leading collectives moving forward. This is just a small, yet remarkably telling example of why that belief rings so true with any single current admirer of their work thus far. Their heightened sense of chemistry between each other is the preeminent reason behind these descriptions, and with that being said, it makes quite a lot of sense why they’re even known as “BetterTogether” in the first place.
June… A Month For The Eyes
Near the beginning of June, I wrote about how glaive’s video for “detest me” finally broke down the barrier that stood between the online landscape most hyperpop and/or digicore acts called their home throughout 2020, and the outside “real” world that they couldn’t explore due to the worldwide circumstances at hand. Since that release, a number of incredible music videos have dropped throughout this month that just go to show how eager these particular scenes are in exploring the visual aspects of their art — with their same sense of individuality still entirely intact as always.
From the sheer eye-candy that wubz’s video for “ruin” presents via its dark, yet lively visual editing, to deth coni’s desktop-focused trip through all things green and mind-altering with “upndown,” and right down to midwxst’s fast-paced, exceptionally edited video for “ruthless,” each of these experiences shines a light on the obvious hampering for the visual medium that these once Internet-exclusive figures now have.
If June is just the beginning of this trend – and it more than likely is – then it’s safe to say we’ll be treated to an even larger cast of remarkable videos conducted by some of the most creative minds working today as the future moves onward.
A Refreshing Playlist… Long Overdue
Being that I always reserve my favorite singles/albums lists for the end of the year, I’d like to celebrate reaching the midpoint of 2021 by doing something I probably should’ve already done by now. Each installment of this column is easily accessible through our website here, sure, but I would rather not see the content I’ve featured on a weekly basis get lost by the wayside in any given manner. That being said, here’s a playlist of – I kid you not – every single song that’s ever been featured in “Get Refreshed” since its inception earlier this year! I’ll be sure to keep this updated from now on with new additions each week, and I’ll leave a link to it within each post as they continue to drop. I owe everyone who has been involved with and/or just supported this column throughout these past months an immense thank you for being such great people, and I hope this playlist serves as a nice “refresh” as to how this year has transpired in regards to online music.
Thanks so much once again, and I’m so excited to finish out this year as strongly as we entered it!
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