Suicideyear Remembrance [EP]

[Software; 2014]

Styles: sadness, hope
Others: Yung Lean, Friendzone, OPN, all those people with †s and ∆s in their name from like 2010

There’s something about Suicideyear that’s wonderfully hard to pin down. Sure, if you’re sick of this “sadboy” shit by now, you could try to write his beats off as yet another byproduct of the typically dull intersection of trap and witch house, but in doing so, you’d be ignoring the worthwhile and idiosyncratic young talent that is James Prudhomme. After all, his CV includes everything from Yung Lean and Rome Fortune productions to Dem Franchize Boyz edits to a split single with Kaytranada on Bromance. And now, of all places, his first substantial solo release has somehow ended up on Daniel Lopatin’s Software imprint? It’s certainly a strange pairing at first glance, but it’s a testament to both Prudhomme’s versatility and Lopatin’s curation that Remembrance is a perfect fit for the typically hi-def, post-internet sounds of Software.

Like many of his peers, Prudhomme has a fondness for Southern rap. Given his incessant usage of skittering 808s, you’d be hard-pressed to call his music anything other than trap. However, unlike his peers, he’s finally found a way to move past that obsession into something entirely new. While bigger names like Shlohmo continue the route of slow, syrupy productions that jack their atmosphere straight from Salem’s moody walls of noise, Suicideyear has chosen to go the exact opposite direction, turning those billows of sound into pointillist vapors almost entirely divorced from any existing scene.

Opening salvo “I Don’t Care About Death Because I Smoke” (which some might recognize as the instrumental to an Antwon tune from earlier this year) immediately acquaints the listener with Remembrance’s primary concerns, full of cascading rimshots that carry a gorgeous, wintry melody. When the kick finally comes in, it doesn’t boom like a typical 808; it just helps move the overall groove along, a small player next to the melodic elements. In fact, the whole EP showcases a knack for these sorts of orchestral, nearly baroque melodies that very few trap producers seem to be interested in. Personal favorite “Caroline” is a strangely tragic MIDI symphony for the first half before a chirpy synth line comes in as a foil to transform the whole thing into pure silver lining, while “U S” evolves from a disembodied bell sound into a humming, swirling mass of sound, only to fall into an 8-bit blender for the final moment. Prudhomme uses a rather small toolbelt of 808s and somber, lush pads to craft his own little microcosm of emotion, using each element to its affective fullest as a way to lend depth to his computerized compositions.

Finally, in a knowing wink, the EP closes with a cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “When You Sleep.” By all accounts, a trap cover of MBV has no right to be anything close to good, and yet Suicideyear pulls it off gloriously. He (rightfully) lets that main melody do all the talking, using a softly distorted synth over a bed of phased hi-hats to tease out a hypnotic, icy, and genuinely tired quality that even the original doesn’t have. Prudhomme has his genre listed as “shoegaze” on Facebook, and this cover only makes apparent what I’ve been trying to say about this whole EP: Suicideyear has finally utilized the tools and sounds of the cracked-copy-of-Fruity-Loops generation to develop his own emotional language. Like his peers on Software (perhaps most specifically Ford & Lopatin), his search for the sadness behind the layers and layers of MIDI has finally come to fruition not just because he throws ethereal trance pads at everything, but because he’s successfully developed his own way to talk through the minimal language of 808, pad, and, most crucially, melody.

Links: Suicideyear - Software

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