“Honey Badger,” the lead track off Metahuman, the debut full-length from Eprom, is articulated, tight, […]
“Honey Badger,” the lead track off Metahuman, the debut full-length from Eprom, is articulated, tight, shiny, and round; a morning flight through a Vancouver psilocybin skyscape, a crispy dip into a cascading waterfall of thoughtfully hacked 0s and 1s underscored by a bucephalus bouncing ball of sub-bass. Much nicer than the cutthroat African animal (and YouTube sensation) from which its name derives, the track is a sensational intro to an album that dabbles in various popular flavors of the moment (dubstep, trap, 8-bit) while succumbing to the clichés of none. If these 13 tracks have anything in common besides a love of low end, it’s a mostly glossy sheen on the highs—the California sun bouncing off a candy-painted car creeping into the sunset at the end of the world.
Like Yoshi in the sky with diamonds, this record oozes, bleeps and pulsates for the souls of a videogame generation. And fear not, there is more than enough squelchy, digital bass in this piece to keep the stoned speaker-skankers happy—from the screw-faced gangster grime of “Prototype” to the android G-funk of “The Golden Planet” and the blown-out squat and wobble of “Sun Death.” But like West Coast beat-scene contemporaries Salva, Dnae Beats, and Low Limit, Eprom uses wobbles and LFOs simply as highlight colors in a palette chiefly composed of rubbery kicks, demanding claps, and lots of large, neon-hued synths. These elements comprise album highlights like the “Regis Chilbin,” a cybersonic wet dream of ping-ponging videogame bleeps, and “Can Control,” a Dirty South rap workout redone in a restrained Bladerunner stylee.
While the record showcases its heaviest hitters up front, the middle is fleshed out by a suite of computer love songs. “Floating Palace” and “Variations” are playlisted dance numbers for the Legend of Zelda wedding DJ; “Transparency” places baby-doll vocals over a 2-step beat so deconstructed it begs for the “future garage” tag; and “Love Number” is a beachy broken-beat bump ‘n’ flex with undulating synth melodies billowing in the silicon breeze. As singles, these tracks might lose their steam, but they provide a nice break from the rest of Metahuman‘s heavy pumping. Nonetheless, even the mellow numbers are rigorous drum workouts—deep house, this ain’t.
Eprom is named after a memory chip and that certainly shows on Metahuman—the record is full of crystalline computer soundscapes that are beautiful in their artifice and bracing like a hit of computer cleaner, clearing away dusty samples and dues paid. (Recent Lone and Rustie records act to similar effect.) Old-schoolers may balk, but this is music for the block, composed of blocks—there is nothing “classic” here, and there doesn’t need to be.