The term for the largely indefinable musical genre "chillwave" already has a Wikipedia page? Didn't that just happen? Guess it's a testament to how quickly our perpetually data-starved collective consciousness operates. The more that comes in, the more you get swamped. Era Extraña
, the sophomore full-length from Neon Indian, an architect of the genre, expands upon these themes of isolation, loss, and fake optimism when embedded in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it computer age. His second effort feels more thoughtful than its predecessor, the scrappy Psychic Chasms
. Where Psychic Chasms
won fans for its negligent sensations, Era Extraña
is a cultivated sonic calamity, an experiment of combining, or more appropriately, cramming every space with aural information.
Palomo segments his work with three semi-instrumental pieces (his "instrument" being a laptop). Entitled respectively, "Heart: Attack", "Heart: Decay", and "Heart: Release", he communicates that digitalism's contradictory job is to assault, deteriorate, and liberate our emotions. Palomo scatters samples from the natural music of machinery— illuminating whirls from video games, buried phone conversations, and constant blips and bleeps from who knows where. His impenetrable synth compositions smear every layer. While the album can certainly get overwhelming, Palomo knows just where to refrain, especially with his moody and droll lyrical delivery. The first two singles, "Future Sick" and "Polish Girl" bump and punch into existence, then whirl into a captured realm. His snappy drum machine tricks fight against the synth force, especially on "The Blindside Kiss", where arcade glee meets Jesus and Mary Chain reminiscent scuzz-backwash, which does not burden reverb-laden vocals merely wafting past. The track "Fallout" uses a huge bass drum to inspire movement underneath exhalation of atmospheric tremolo. "Halogen (I Could be Your Shadow)" borrows M83's lush buoyancy (I mean to say it heavily rips off "Kim and Jessie").
Structured as densely as chocolate cake, too much of Era Extraña
could result in gluttonous pain. Luckily, Palomo wavers (sometimes indistinctly) between overindulgence and revision—loading the listener with noise but never taking the experience to an upsetting extreme. The soundscapes, awash in computerized sheen, are glistening, poppy, and at once foreboding, addressing desolation and its susceptibility to be sugarcoated.
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MP3: "Polish Girl"