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Vector Lovers - iphonica


If there’s one thing you can’t help but love, it’s got to be the democratising effect of technology. Take Vector Lovers new album, iPhonica. The entire album was produced on an iPhone, using £10.49 app Nanostudio. This means that arguably it might be one of the few LPs that cost more to buy than it did to make, a better sounding cousin of straight-to-boombox Daniel Johnston. However, to be honest, it’s a conceptual gimmick, and discussing at length about how an album was produced with limited reference to the content recalls the worst of What Hi-Fi album reviews (“thick, creamy sub-bass … knot-tightening mids”). So it’s lucky that iPhonica is often good, occasionally excellent, and rises above its humble origins to roam deftly across sounds and genres.

In just the first three tracks we get swirling synth poignancy (“Nakatori”), classic crunchy electro (“Warm Laundrette”), and intricate, spaced-out cinematics (“On Kastanienallee”). Later tracks cover melodic, vaguely chiptune electronica (“Monologue”), near-beatless ambience (“Final Wish”) and, probably inevitably, something that brings Boards Of Canada to mind (“Yesterday Is Gone”). It’s impressive output for a 4-inch instrument.

Whatever the micro-genre, a slight melancholy pervades the whole album; an elegy for the Vector Lovers project, which is ending after a decade and was never exactly whoop-whoop to start with. Indeed, even the odd track you could imagine working on a dancefloor, such as the woodblock tech-house of “Replicator”, still has a red-eyed late-night feel. Some, like “Vigil” are just downbeat in every sense, but the best mix the sad-robot schtick with a wry, wistful yet eternally hopeful air. “Big City Lover” is chiming, hypnotic and affecting, and “Patience” is a glorious piece of melodic comedown ambient dripping with emotion.

I’m clearly at risk of falling for the expectancy effect, but ultimately, even if the quality of production belies the supposed simplicity of the albums construction, it does occasionally feel as though the sound palette has been overly limited. The miasmatic pads in particular become very familiar over the hour, and I found myself waiting for more meat on some pretty skeletal drums. It’s also a lot to sustain for 16 tracks; some feel more like vignettes that should have been given a good seeing-to in a real, non-nano studio. What can’t be denied is that the individual successes on iPhonica totally transcend the means of their creation, and show what extraordinary results can be achieved with limited tools.

Sam Stagg

Reader Comments (1)

Nice post thank you for sharing.

December 17, 2016 | Unregistered Commentern songs

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