Phteven Universe is new self-titled cassette release which is also available in digital format. From the delightfully snazzy cover, you might think this is just a simple vaporwave album, but it is actually a little more avant garde and experimental, even tad dark. The vocals unexpectedly utilize an effect that makes them sound literally demonic, in that late 80s, early 90s horror movie kind of way. The song titles are rather unconventional. Some of them are roman numerals (with a few missing in sequence.) There’s a nonexistent 8th track that’s just titled ??? The final track is curiously titled Fuck Off Melissa. There must be a story behind that somewhere, and I’d like to hear it.
The album opens with some wildlife bird chirping sounds, not unlike what you’d hear in the nature area outside The Flamingo casino is Las Vegas. It soon transitions into more standard vaporwave fare, with some 80s piano pop instrumental driving the mix. S u n d a y is an example of a song that you think is going to be straightforward synthwave, until the demonic dream sequence vocals make an appearance and you realize you’re dealing with something slightly darker and more abstract. The abrupt alternation between cute, cheerful and dark and depressing is a recurring theme in the album. Perhaps it’s a subconscious illustration of the dual lives people lead as animephiliacs, which attract people drawn to a kind of cutesy childlike innocence they wish to recover, while also harboring dark thoughts, which lurk below but are ever prone to resurface. The last song, Fuck Off Melissa almost even sounds like industrial music, reminiscent of stuff like Nine Inch Nails. My favorite song on the album is X (yeah that’s right, Roman numeral 10.) It’s just smooth and ambient, with just the right pacing throughout.
Anyway, this is an interesting cassette release to say the least, and one which provides more than enough content and aesthetic to be worth purchasing at the measly $3 price tag.
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