There’s a lot of music that circles within the blog world, filling inboxes and clogging up Twitter feeds, as mercenary bloggers get caught up in the latest buzz band or bedroom-made genre. Lots of it fits into the post-modern genre of glo-fi, or as Hipster Runoff delightfully parodied it, chillwave. Ambient pop music that was so over-saturated with processed samples that it’s virtually drowning, has been thrown lifeline after lifeline by hipsters and it’s dulled us into a musical coma. In fairness it’s given us the odd bright peak through the mist, in Washed Out, or Toro Y Moi, among others, but mostly these bands or solo producers are about as enjoyable as crashing on ketamine.
This endless stream of contemporary music lacks any real structure, or energy. It has no balls and no attitude. It doesn’t speak to anyone or generate any gutsy responses from it’s audience. It doesn’t make you laugh. It doesn’t make you cry. It hangs in the air like smoke that’s been bellowed from an old pair of worn out lungs and it has us coughing on a daily basis now. Sure we love ambient music and shoegaze and new wave and psychedelic music, but all of these delightful genres seem to stand up tall on their own, whereas glo-fi is like a flaccid penis – unattractive and ultimately pretty useless.
The main issue is that it’s forgotten a lot of what makes music enjoyable. It might be fine for very stoned students, but it’s allowed pretty talentless, bedroom-producers to un-create music at an alarming rate. It’s music’s equivalent of a face minus any distinguishable features. It’s like that point in the heavy weed session when everyone runs out of something to say. However, there’s a silver lining to all this and in the London trio, Sunless 97 – who are all set to release their debut EP, Making Waves, on the excellent blog/label, Abeano, on November 21st – we have all the elements of glo-fi, finally turned into something masterful and addictive.
They have the drifting gossamer synthetics, they have the ambient surround-sound and they have the filtered samples, but unlike so much of the current time-wasters they’ve not let the melody and sense of pop drift out from between their fingers. They’ve grasped the same elements but re-shaped them into what they should be about – music on a higher plane. Just take the track, Love Like ’97, and your immediately introduced to Alice’s echoing vocals, which are utterly gorgeous and arrest you no matter what you’re doing – it’s music that presses your life’s pause button and the relief is tangible. Edward’s voice then joins her, layering it up into a criss-crossing melody that shares genetics with the kind of accessible tones you once heard in your childhood nursery rhymes.
Illuminations has Warp Records‘ Kwes on hand with the trio’s production and he seems to introduce beats in new places, lifting the song away from the common dangers of chillwave and high up into the candyfloss clouds. Again the vocals shine in a stunning refrain “In the autumn to my bleeding, winter comes like an attack”. Just like the exceptionally good Braids they manage to marry up psychedelic pop music with heartfelt melodies and astonishing vocals. This band feel like an entirely new wave that’s churned up all the recent contemporary genres and washed purest gold upon our shorelines. If you were waiting for the evolution of glo-fi then you’ve just found it. If we were found to be suffering from a Ketamine crash, then it’s this extraordinary, cinematic music that would surely lift us to safety. (MB)
SUNLESS 97 – ILLUMINATIONS
SUNLESS 97 – LOVE LIKE 97