Suryummy Prismatic Escalator

[Constellation Tatsu; 2015]

Styles: science lab, crystals, electronic, space, colors
Others: Panabrite, Xepter Rose, Grapefruit, Floating Gardens

Suryummy’s latest release Prismatic Escalator, out on the Oakland-based Constellation Tatsu label, splits the stylistic difference between releases on the small cassette outfit, a celestial mix of vintage synths set to kosmische mode and prickly beat tape sketches. All at once, it’s cosmic and polychromatic, but also dense and heady, finding audiovisual artist Emmett Feldman exploring the spectacularly treated timbres of his equipment almost to the point of sensory overload. It’s restrained to a fault, reminiscent of film soundtracks or video game music in its static patience and use of regular motifs, a galactic trek tied down with humble melodies and bird chirps. This lends it some flexibility, but also gives it a weirdly ambient affect; I found myself absorbing the whole record as one piece and failing to focus in on anything in specific.

These songs are more unique for the risks they take, putting Feldman in indistinct territories and letting him work his way out with celestial maps. “Couch Creekin” is a clean sweep of curious pops and clicks with a few interesting synth patches at play, the sort of shifting palette of sounds you could find on a good Plaid song. Elsewhere, like the title track, Emmett plays the New Age tropes straighter, with lots of endless reverb and peals of melody spiraling out like solar flares, applying a steady burn to the instruments that reaches a briefly rewarding peak. “Schoolyard Galaxy Cake” goes down easy like a snack while waiting in line to buy body augmentations at the space mall, while “Cherry Berry Fairy” languishes about like someone’s AFK and idling in the healing room. Further on, “Laser Ballistics” plays with samples and immense space and string effects to disorienting results, and “Protein Lush” works as the album’s strongest ambient cut, a dissection of rocket-launch synth drones into a terrestrial stew of bubbling guitar.

My main complaint about the record would be that it is nondescript. Although the pleasant, shimmering tones appeal to me in their malleability and intensity, they start to run together with underuse. So many preset arpeggios and so many immense pad sweeps and colossal echoes simply emerge and then dissipate without any progress. The sheen of a certain effect wears off quickly, and I come away from the record feeling like I’ve heard only a few songs rather than several, a multitude of minor vignettes separated by distinctive percussive parts. Feldman’s approach to songcraft is colorfully aimless, space-filling on an infinite plane that might be best served to someone already blown away by the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, who doesn’t need their music to be overtly engaging. The album has the appeal of a crystal souvenir: Its prismatic effects are limited by its own pleasant, aimless novelty, but there are some nice colors and shapes.

Links: Suryummy - Constellation Tatsu

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