Dave Saved / NPLGNN Eternal Flame

[Forever Now; 2017]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: vaporwave chop/screw, 20BPM rave, audio-installation
Others: Morkebla, +you, Delroy Edwards

It’s hard to pinpoint the best stuff that’s come out of artists with such malleable “pull.” Both Dave Saved and NPLGNN — two artists taking a split-crack at Forever Now’s first release, Eternal Flame — have been accepted on labels like Reel Torque, Eclectic Collective, Astro:Dynamics, Where To Now?, Gang of Ducks, and OKNO. They fluctuate individually as musicians from rave architecture to club dynamics to weave-ambience to sample-askew. Individually and together on Eternal Flame, they’ve found themselves at a crossroads of audible storytelling and sculpting. Mutually complemented in both tracks, Dave Saved and NPLGNN behold a variety of sounds individually that don’t amount to multiple tracklistings, but throughout theses peaks and bounds, each conveys their own story arch and timeline.

For example, one of the best things (IMO) that came out of James Ferraro’s discography is his transition from visual-accompaniment artist to complete audio-installation artist. Around the time the Skaters were ablaze and Ferro was making side projects like Crystal Lamborghini, he’d set up jarring visual aids to lend a voice to the live music. These aids started alongside Xerox’d pictures of galaxies pasted about all four walls, floor and ceiling, and ended using loads of Raid to present huffing asphyxiation covering Roach Motel. Eventually, Ferraro “presented” 100% at MoMA P.S.1 as a sound installation for their freight elevator, continuing to use subjected surrounding objects of the inhabiting artwork itself. However, he’s always been able to release audible installations in themselves, such as Far Side Virtual, Suki Girls, On Air, Heaven’s Gate, Human Story 3, FUKU-TONE, etc., using nothing but engaging and familiar sounds to convey complete clarity on the aesthetics being used to harness an atmospheric imagination.

Arguably, the most prevalent point to note regarding Eternal Flame is the way Dave Saved and NPLGNN maximize their music making production abilities of infrastructure and architecture. It’s immediately noticeable. But “for what?” is unfortunately the outcome. No matter how masterful both Dave Saved and NPLGNN are at composing an installation of sounds, competing with each other furiously and majestically, what is the takeaway in the end? There are lots of holes and spaces for contemplation, and plenty of influences brilliantly drawn from a plethora of genres and musicians. But at what cost? And are the plot-points even adding up? For listeners, there is a huge lack of purpose outside Eternal Flame, a lazy, cop-out critique, but true: there’s less human conveyance here that is misshapen. Albeit the presentation of flawless engineering, a story of millions of beautifully crafted prose can still amount to no meaning at all.

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