Amherst
heat.wav


4.5
superb

Review

by Kirk Bowman STAFF
December 23rd, 2015 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "i 'm a future funk producer i have nothing to smile about" - Amherst

Over the past few years, probably because of the quick communication methods of the internet, genuinely innovative genres that are only really possible with modern technology have risen into massive popularity in critical music scenes within months and fallen just as quickly. A common thread behind all these flash-in-the-pan styles is the way that most of the best music comes after the entire style has already been largely dismissed by the audio-obsessed public. Future funk, a disco-based offshoot of vaporwave, is no exception to the rule. It burst into popularity thanks almost entirely to Saint Pepsi's Hit Vibes, which hit it big around the same time vaporwave was subtly starting to slide into the aforementioned complete lack of credibility (not a coincidence). But then, the exact same thing happened to future funk, which is now almost completely neglected, outside of a relatively dedicated (but miniature) fanbase. It wasn't surprising, but it was a little sad. Like every hyper-specific electronic subgenre, it is formulaic, but that doesn't mean it's never worth a listen. The absolute best example I can give you from 2015 is heat.wav - a polished, moody, cohesive album that ties the best of funk, vaporwave and straight pop together into a delicious debut.

One of the reasons future funk is mostly ignored by the public is the familiar tropes. Inactive producer AEON-MEMBER describes the basic process unfortunately accurately: "Find Japanese funk sample, add vengeance drum samples, side chain compression, 909 hi hat on the off beat, anime photo. Upload." There's a sad percentage of it that does work like that. heat.wav, however, does not. Besides the lack of anime, the songwriting and sampling are legitimately creative. Instead of just finding some bit from a funk classic he really likes and looping it using the aforementioned process, Amherst approaches sampling more like a hip-hop producer or a member of The Avalanches (sidenote: one of his older songs made rounds as a new single for the sequel to Since I Left You, fooling quite a few people, if that gives you any insights to the quality of these tracks), combining record digging with pop sensibilities. And on the topic of record digging, these are some seriously cool samples. Amherst made a youtube playlist with all the songs he ended up sampling for the album, and there's a nice variety, with some cheesy disco, some blue-eyed soul, and a thick layer of funk. He utilizes them creatively in his album, exaggerating the groove and, of course, looping. These songs - with verses, choruses, bridges, etc. - are extremely catchy but take a while to get stale. There aren't that many albums from this year I've kept listening to, but this has kept making rounds.

Partially to blame for this longevity are the emotions it brings on. It would have been easy for Amherst to make an album that was entirely cheerful, optimistic, and partying. Thankfully, he realized that happiness can't be expressed without a comedown, and ends up cooling off from the highs of "Nobody but You" and the preceding tracks on "For Two," picking it back up again on "Something About You," and then slowing it down again on the back end. These mood shifts are gradual, welcome, and not forced at all. Based on the lyrics, heat.wav is about love, heartbreak, and recovery, and this refusal to sit in one state of mind for too long is very consistent with that theme. In Hit Vibes, the album starts off with an unexpected invitation to a party, and a lot of future funk artists have embraced the sparkling, magnificent euphoria that hits immediately after that. But Amherst remembers that the invitation was unexpected, and that this isn't about someone with a thriving, crazy, social life, but instead someone who is incredibly thrilled to be introduced to "someone," capturing both the thrill, the comedown and the growth that it gives him as a person.

On /r/futurefunk, probably the biggest future funk community still around, a listener said that they sometimes felt guilty listening to it, because it's often so derivative. Amherst responded by saying that "If you're taking huge chunks of samples realize that your main role is that of a curator, and that you should probably be releasing albums and eps rather than single after single after single. Taking a bunch of different artists and making them sound like they belong together is a lot more interesting than just taking one good song and repackaging it as a single." With heat.wav, Amherst did this successfully. He managed to "curate" a whole new idea out of a bunch of smaller pieces, successfully chopping samples, songwriting and ordering tracks to create something that can stand on its own. So yeah, it's hard to smile as a future funk producer. Nobody really takes you seriously, if they take you at all. But heat.wav is a superb example of something worth smiling for.



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user ratings (5)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2015


1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

critique is always appreciated.

http://thoughtsonalbums.tumblr.com/post/135757156363/heatwav



SOURCES:



Initial quote:

https://twitter.com/fivexhotel/status/678443295047979008



Quote on predictability of future funk: https://www.reddit.com/r/futurefunk/comments/3x8nwn/some_help_on_considering_what_i_would_do/



Amherst's sampling style:

https://twitter.com/amhrst/status/677562289365626880





Amherst's view on sampling's originality as it relates to future funk:

https://www.reddit.com/r/futurefunk/comments/3wvenw/conflicted_feelings_about_future_funk/cy15f10

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 23rd 2015


70239 Comments


k sweet u have like 27 links to other poeple saying stuff about the shit u just said some shit about but do u have a link to the actual album or

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2015


1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ooh yeah my bad.



https://amherstisgood.bandcamp.com/album/heat-wav

it's also on spotify

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 23rd 2015


70239 Comments


lmao thanks deffs gonna check this

Archael
December 23rd 2015


1163 Comments


Lol dat summary

treeqt.
December 23rd 2015


16970 Comments


heat.wav hahaha that's hilarious great album title































1.0

Archelirion
December 24th 2015


6594 Comments


Nice review man, obviously well-researched and it comes off well. Listening now, it's not exactly my sorta thing but it's got fun moments.

I mean, I'm involuntarily dancing so it's obviously doing something right.

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2015


1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks, appreciated.

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

excellent review, makes me wish we supported hyperlinks. listening to the album now

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

also fun story I used to be Facebook friends with the guy behind Skylar Spence but then I deleted my account

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2015


70239 Comments


that was literally the least fun story ive heard in possibly the entirety of 2015

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks 4 ur input potsy

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and yeah i'm def digging this. dunno how I feel about its lasting appeal but it's a nice friday morning listen

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2015


70239 Comments


no, thank you for your riveting accounts of whatever it is that story was supposed to be

Jots
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


7561 Comments


less of a story, more of a humblebrag ;^ ]

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh absolutely, I take every chance I get to flaunt my ~staff credentials~

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2015


70239 Comments


weakest brag ever

Brostep
Emeritus
December 25th 2015


4491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that's the point

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2015


70239 Comments


thanks for pointing that out

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2015


1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks @brostep. my fun humblebrag-story is that Rivers Cuomo has opened not one, but two of my snapchats



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