There is a huge difference between sampling the circumspect loops of hotel lobby instrumentals and making music that sounds akin to replication of the heedful melodies that drive it. In the first instance, those sounds have been displaced from their intended environment and are subverted as a consequence of their recontextualization. In the second instance, the tunes drift into the hotel proprietor’s objective; they are relaxing, inoffensive, and typically tepid background compositions that remain disposable in their construction of a calm business setting. Drip-133 doesn’t fit into either of these categories, but on ♡, he slots comfortably into the thin and amicable band that separates them.
From the Organ Armani chromatic scatterplot artwork to the Auto-Tune vocal loops and AMDISCS tagline, “Experience true happiness, now and always,” ♡ conforms to the objectives of the hotel lobby angle without calculated association, subversive or otherwise. Each piece is influenced by, or rather consists of, smooth R&B beat patterns and ambient pop soundscapes that are shamelessly melded into the product of an unassociated act. It comes free of any agenda or twist — the artist responsible is creating these tunes on the back of purely imaginative virtues that play into a specific type of experimental internet art, and that’s got to be a good thing. ♡, his official debut, sees him finding his feet through assembling a collection of lush and easygoing samples that bob gently across the surface of a scene that’s currently rife with critique and debate.
“Vapor Videoz” is part of the experimental arts blog Felt Zine. The online channel hosts a catalog of YouTube clips and operates as a domain where like-minded practitioners share visual efforts reflecting the very templates they initially hijacked; Japanese pop promos, MTV segues, and 1980s perfume commercials are cut across a number of contributions, ranging from Saint Pepsi’s cleverly edited “Cherry Pepsi” to the sea, sun and swimsuit splice of JOOPソフトウェアDELUXE’s “Jade East.” “Hot Key,” one of two Drip-133 offerings currently on the site, is directed by someone calling themselves Terrell Davis, and it meshes the bulk of these components with a blanket of spiraling neon effects; the music is similar to the other tracks on offer, but the video remains at odds with almost every other clip. It’s an indication that even though he is working in a realm alongside others who might fall under the vaporwave category, Drip-133 stands out as someone carefully constructing his own approach.
In the context of ♡, that’s wholly promising, because it amplifies scope within the production, even in such a limited state. The first few tracks clearly demonstrate his subtle branching out. “Water Curtain” is a beautiful loop with supple keys behind sturdy R&B percussion. There’s plenty of echo and a generous portion of pitch-shifting toward the end of the track, which allows for an insight as to how the artist can instantly transform the mood by adjusting the tempo of his source material. The process is quite simple, and it has been deployed time and time again across the album’s course. The most apparent examples are on “Slippin’,” where Drip-133 loops the opening fragment of “How You Gonna Act Like That” by Tyrese so that the original melody sinks into the album’s gentle pace. The exact same tactic is mirrored on “Yungsad,” where he borrows from Lyfe Jennings’ “Must Be Nice.” The effect is pleasant, and it certainly works as part of ♡’s aesthetic, but in most cases, the impact is relatively uninspiring.
“www.eclipse.jp” embodies one of the album’s finer moments, exposing yet another pilfered beat that’s unassumingly looped until the predictable pitch-shift kicks in. The difference here is that it sounds brilliantly well cut while echoing the momentum of “Water Curtain.” However, the lion’s share of the record is pretty unremarkable and folds under the weight of its own stylistic aspiration. But Drip-133 is an extremely productive producer, and he makes excellent use of Eno samples on his SoundCloud to create a similar atmosphere, which is what caught the eye of Adam Harper in his most recent Dummy article. The artist is undoubtedly doing something interesting, and there is certainly promise in his concept, but as the pace of ♡ slows down and the same tactics are recycled on every track, the feeling it aspires to melts away and the sound instigates prolonged frustration as opposed to “true happiness.” The remaining jams constitute the product of a young beatmaker writing music for the sheer fun of it, as a creative outlet with no restraints — and even though he’s working within a stylistic framework that’s gaining more and more exposure by the day, it’s the artist’s curiosity that remains standout here as opposed to the music it yields.