Beat Culture // Tokyo Dreamer // January 15 // Bad Panda
With the everlasting collapse of the music industry, more and more people turn away not only from major labels but from the standart way of putting out music in general. Since it is near impossible to earn any money from selling albums anymore, a new generation of producers feel fine about offering their music for free with an option of paying for people want a physical copy of the record. This try before you buy technique ignores the need for singles and focuses on the album as a format. Bandcamp is definitely helping to push this new movement and many young artists are looking for their first success there. It takes a lot to get through the tons of music but every once in a while something truly good comes up.
Sunik Kim goes by the slightly bland Beat Culture moniker which he got from a chilwave name generator, which might earn him some comparisons to the way Childish Gambino got his name. The music he makes however is just about the complete opposite of bland, a torrential barrage of bright colours and piercing sun rays. He’s seventeen years old, a young age that will no doubt get him compared to another promising beatmaker Balam Acab. He’s a Korean native attending school in the States which may or may not make some people compare him to Tokimonsta. All these things aside Tokyo Dreamer, his second bandcamp album, is quite an impressive accomplishment for a person who records beats for barely a year.
What strikes first about this LP is how well produced it is. There is an ongoing argument about young artists being unable to produce music at top level of sound quality. Tokyo Dreamer calls bullshit on that. A lot of the album is set against the backdrop of flowing water with hard hitting hip hop beats, euphoric industrial k-pop synths and tastefully cut vocal samples scattered all over the 42 minutes of the album. A lot of the LP follows similar pattern but it’s those few tracks that break them mold of blog dance and turn up the ambient qualities of the music that are highlights of the album. Memory (Cassettes) cranks up the balearic to come across as a glo-fi version of Delorean with some serious Balam Acab influence in the vocal samples. Coastal Statement combines stuttering piano rhythm with a lot of bass to deliver the “chillest” track of the album. Even at the album’s busiest, most bass heavy tracks Beat Culture still manages to sound light, not dissimilar to the sound Gold Panda perfected on Lucky Shiner.
A lot of people are doing the instrumental hip hop thing at the moment but few people give it the lighthearted hands in the air quality that it begs for. Tokyo Dreamer takes a lot of its cues from blogosphere’s tried and tested genres like balearic, glo-fi and chillwave but it replaces the done-and-dusted hazy nostalgia with eyes-wide-open euphoria that has been missing from experimental music for far too long. Sounds like the first essential summer album just came out in January then.