Artist: Loose Link
Title: Neo Tropico
Label: illuminated Paths
Format: Cassette (limited edition), Digital
Genre: Experimental, Vaporwave, Sound Collage, Ambient
The tape came with stickers, cards, pogs and other neat little things, but obviously, the real treat is the music itself. Loose link’s previous releases have been, typically, this nice, hazy sound collage type material. Think of the Avalanches but with more wild atmospheres and a lot less focus on beats and more of a focus on the sound itself. Now, calling it “vaporwave’ I guess is up to you. I’m somewhat unfamiliar with the genre and but I am aware of the annoying “it’s legit/it’s not a legit genre” riff raff that has been bouncing all over the net. I’m going to just focus on the music as a whole.
We open with a chilled track with echoed synth and a stretched out vocal sample. It sets the tone for the album as a whole; this sort of hazy nostalgic-retrofuturistic collage idea is actually quite captivating. Maybe that’s because I make collages as well but the skill here in terms of production, layering, sampling and the choice of the sounds used is really something to behold. Voices, musical clips, waves and other found samples are gingerly mixed with effects, synth and other electronic goodness and create something surprisingly mellow.
Did I mention that Loose Link collaborates with some of his friends on tracks? Folks like Noisesurfer, The Alternative Sapien, Off Land and a score of others? Seriously, this tape is PACKED with folks lending their own styles and touches. So the sound over all gets quite varied without leaping too far out of the central theme. Think FSOL meets The Avalanches, meets Negativland meets VHS Head. This is wild! Compared to his previous works, the style is similar but this certainly feels like a logical progression.
Each track has something unique to offer. I therefor argue each one is a standout in its own right; there certainly aren’t any low hitters. I’d urge fans of the FSOLForum to get your paws on this one or if you’re fns of the aforementioned groups and/or a fan of Loose Link’s previous material. This is a good time you’re missing out on. (4.8 out of 5)