Review Summary: "Play this album while you take care of your plants" - Bbrainz . Or just go about your business with it as background music
Bbrainz is the musical project of an Argentinian based producer and Crystal, his latest offering, is another addition to the growing number of self-released albums that fall under the vaporwave/chillwave category. The genre itself, by means of the way artists can produce an entire album conveniently via the computer, appears to be just pumping out endless amounts of releases every month. The inherit nature, borrowing and sampling, of vaporwave has allowed artists to handpick songs they like or that fit a certain mood, process them, add in some bells and whistles and for the most part, there you have a new song. Of course, this is a vague and perhaps harsh generalization, it takes plenty talent to have a discerning ear for music and what compositions sound best--there is no blame on the artists on that front. The only thing is, and it might be too wishful to think for artists in this style, is that sometimes one can benefit greatly by scaling back their relentless production of albums in order to take time to genuinely reflect on what direction they want their music to go towards.
That sentiment brings the topic back to Bbrainz and Crystal. Musically, Crystal consists of mostly electronic looped beats, samples that have been altered, pitch-shifted and altogether chopped with synth based tones thrown all around. On "Kanashimi [Interlude]", Bbrainz uses in a rather novel twist, some pan flute instrumentation to add to the overall relaxing mood the middle of the album presents. The next track continues along in the same vein using some tropical beats, in a way grounding this electronic work in some firm footing. The record ends much like it begins, on more of a party note. Bbrainz elects to focus his attention again on providing the listener with smooth beats overlaid with drowsy vocals that elicit that late night/last call kind of feeling as the night comes to its, hopefully not, but bitter end. That notion is most prominently felt on penultimate track "カッパ [メモリ]" and one of the album openers, "オメガ [Tell Me How It Feels]" as they both manage to balance the relaxing, experimental vibes of vaporwave/chillwave while still extracting this danceable rhythm as the looped beats provide enough pulsation without becoming unharmonious. The latter, using a key line that sounds eerily similar to the key progression found in one of the Macintosh Plus' songs.
The disc is a mostly relaxing affair save for few moments of danceable, faster tempos, and to his credit Bbrainz appears confident in producing this type of music. However, once again, back to the crux of the argument--the overall impression one gets after listening to the record is that this just seems to be another in a line of releases for Bbrainz. The way the genre itself is almost becoming like a musical version of 'the internet of things' each album, artist and producer borrowing and sampling of what has come before, collecting the data and seamlessly integrating it into a 'new' musical experience is becoming quite unfortunate as very few stand out above the rest. This type of music has been done before and with better success, the songs all clock in at under three minutes and none really standout that much after repeated listens. With seven releases in just over a year, maybe, Bbrainz has exhausted his inspiration and could benefit from taking some time to reflect and choose where this project should go next.