Vaporwave was once quite a phenomenon. It took mid 80’s to late 90’s culture and mashed it up into a blender for ethereal sonic goodness. The genre sparked attention for many listeners who asked for more and then seemed to fade away into the background as other electronic genres of the moment grabbed the attention. However, there is still a strong movement of dedicated practitioners, who continue to push the genre forward. This is the case of PatchBleach, but what you need to know is that unlike many other vaporwave artists, this project is actually quite different from the rest of them, and it sure does stand out.
PatchBleach blends vaporwave with subtle synthwave flavors, and its goal is to make relaxing music. So gone are the simplistic three minute songs with verse-chorus-verse structures. Instead, we have gently meandering musical pieces that range anywhere from six to ten minutes.
Whether or not this is a solo or collective project is unknown to me for lack of more precise information. However, what matters most is what PatchBleach do, and not who he, she, or they are.
What we do know, is that PatchBleach is rather prolific, having released 3 albums since November, that cross the spectrum from ambient to chillwave and vaporwave. The album “warpspeed” contain 10 sprawling tracks meant to take you on almost endless nostalgic mind trips.
It has a sound that is just as relaxing as is it radiant and beautiful. From when the album opens with the title track, “warpspeed”, to when it closes with “supernova”, it shows a consistent proximity to sound designing perfection.
The sound palettes are sometimes abstract, at other times complex, but patient at all times, as PatchBleach builds and develops the musical narrative on each track. The project is apt at sculpting playfully shimmering backdrops such as “emporalanomaly”, or darker ethereal motifs like “cosmonaut”. It can surprise you with the more robust synthwave flavors of “alphacentauri”, or wrap you into the immersive explorations of the ten-minute template on “dopplereffect”.
The following track, “hypergalaxy”, breaks away from the layered synth arpeggiations and moves toward more dominant piano and organ musings, before switching back to the throbbing synth builds on “nebula”. Which is certainly one of the more accessible tracks on the album, mainly due to its sustained and easily defined rhythm.
The beauty of the acoustic piano is then gorgeously highlighted on “quasar”, which is supported by a muted beat. This may be my favorite track on the album. This takes us to the retro-futuristic sonic glaze of “hyperion” which gently ambles through it is repeating keyboard motifs.
The journey comes to an end with the murmuring fragility of “supernova”. For all their epic runtimes and musical meandering, PatchBleach’s tracks have an incredibly alluring quality that you will find difficult to rationalize. It simply washes over you and completely takes over your aural space.
There are many acres of sonic ground created throughout “warpspeed”, on which to lay your weary head to rest, and this is exactly what PatchBleach designed and sculpted this album to do.
OFFICIAL LINKS: Bandcamp: https://patchbleach.bandcamp.com