Saturday, June 6, 2020
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Artist: Okada
Title: Life Is But An Empty Dream
Format: CD + Download
Label: n5MD (@)
Life Is But An Empty Dream here and not in the Zen sense either, Okada aka Greg Pappas’, EP/album exudes ambient atmosphere on some parts and downtempo on others. A cheerfully titled four track EP, or album, as the tracks are pretty long, up to twenty minutes each, with equally sunny track titles aimed to brighten your overcast days. Opening with “Fucked Up Inside” coupled with the album cover photo, both belong on a motivational poster. The song itself is comprised of a dirge like piano with slabs of distant distortion, cymbals shimmer into thunderclaps and sparse drums punctuate while a chorus of desolate vocals hover like ghosts of children over a genocide site – all culminate towards crescendo, then dissolve into a sparse piano and string arrangements. Though somewhat discordant, there is a slight emotional uplift towards the end that suggests release from Earthly despair. Next track, “The Right To Destroy Myself” returns with ambient atmospheric chorus and more sparse piano and slowed- down processed crying. Midway, the melody picks up to beats and rhythmically panned synth tones that accompany the atmospheric crying that reminds of the stylings of BVDUB, but in the first quarter, dissipates into sparse piano, ghostly atmospherics. The productively titled, “Killing Myself For Your Love” brings back the mournful chorus, this time accentuated with well-crafted beat programming that too dissolves two thirds of the way through and makes a nice cinematic ambient bit—reaffirming the pain and ‘ultimate release’ motif. Final track, “I Still Wake Up...” is actually beautiful and probably the more optimistic one-- slightly washed out like a faded photograph exposed to much sunlight, comprised of layers set to downtempo beats and gentle guitar. For all the bleak titles, the final track feels somehow sunnier, Okada affirms that every silver lining has a dark beloved cloud. Dramatic, angsty, deeply sad ambient with very brief sunny breaks with occasional demonstrations of crafty beat science. Listen, listen, listen to Okada’s album hardcopy or digital stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but an empty dream...