Lorem | Adversial Feelings
Undisclosed Recipient / Krisis Publishing (BK/SD)
There is something really quite unpleasant about ‘Adversial Feelings’, an album that invokes a feeling of digital sickness, a fashionable but misguided vapour-wave hell. Lorem has concocted the sonic equivalent of watching The Lawnmower Man on an endless loop, replete with the same fascinating but appallingly course approach to its subject. Indeed, the very crassness that gives that movie its retro-appeal is channeled here with unfathomable precision – listening to the album gives the impression that you are embedded in the films final scene, trapped in the mainframe whilst Jobe loses his shit.
The album is surprisingly simple in its instrumentation, consisting of digital percussion, synthesiser, and robot voice. There is structure, of sorts – the first couple of tracks point to a more mellow, intricate aesthetic, starting with a fairly peaceful drone and human-esque spoken word, before ’Shonx Canton’ introduces an almost guitar-like lead line and irregular – if not unpleasant – percussion. This opening is, however, not a sign of things to come. The aliasing synths and glitched drums, whilst persisting throughout the vast majority of the album, take an increasingly central role in the proceedings, often obfuscating the other, more nuanced, elements. It is this glitched percussion in particular that is so hard to digest. They feel designed to be powerfully caustic, yet in actual fact they are somewhat thin and nasal, and infused with such a liberal amount of processing as to become quickly tiring to the ear.
Though the glitched percussion is the dominant texture, is suffers from being slightly gimmicky in its implementation, reliant on excessive panning and some uncomfortable high-end eq. This is a shame, because there are other aspects of the album that manage to be really quite evocative, pleasant even. The interplay between the synthesiser and the robot voice, whilst never straying from the overriding sci-fi aesthetic, is actually fairly nuanced, and these parts shine in comparison to the work as a whole. The final track in particular, ‘Sonnet’, weaves a stabbing, poetic lyrics with an almost comical vocoder, itself supported by what I imagine is a general midi choir patch. It’s childish, sure, but I found myself strangely beguiled by its machinations, and could have listened to that track in particular for a good twenty minutes without getting bored.
Adversial Feelings is a silly, occasionally wonderful, but largely annoying listen. Its reliance on persuasive glitch points towards some division of young-persons dance music to which I am not familiar, and as such lacks, to my ears at least, any proper depth to maintain interest. Conversely, the synthesis, though hardly high-art sound design, revels in its cheesy, nostalgic, sci-fi aesthetic with such obvious glee that it is hard not to be won over by it. Had the album focussed more on this element – an inordinately more characterful proposition than the omnipresent drums – it would have been able to explore its theme in a more nuanced and ultimately more rewarding fashion than is achieved by its current form.