Recently, I bought a tape of the album ETERNAL NIGHT by FIEBERTRAUM. It was released by power_lunch foundation back in April. In the last month or two, I have been buying a lot of vaporwave tapes. I am excited for this one to come in the mail. Unlike with most things, I reviewed this first on Bandcamp. I wanted to get a sticker pack that the label was offering. The intent was always to do a longer review too, so here we are.


ETERNAL NIGHT has some nice cover art. An image of a broken-down android in a comic/tattoo style that combines cute and creepy (basically superflat), the cover drew me to the album right away. The cover artist, Sungmin Choi, was not a familiar name to me before writing this review, but I found some other samples of her work online. Check it out if you haven't already before we move on to the album.



"BEHIND THE SECRET DOOR" is a great start. It reminds me of musick from the game Tenchu: Stealth Assassins except formatted more for stand-alone listening instead of as a soundtrack. Creature cries pierce the air between the crystal chimes and echoing percussion. Despite the name, "LEVITATION", sounds like a place underground, perhaps a location that is "BEHIND THE SECRET DOOR". The song changes quickly though, an interrupting synth creating the precarious sound of flight, a vision of cool-colored polygons of an abstract landscape. "OCCULT HOWLS" comes out of the darkness of space. A dark ambient/witch house chill from a damp basement or a hidden waterway. Cosmic horrors surround the listener as a drone fills ears with hypnotisms. Bright sounds happen, and then a fade out. Fade in the harsher "ROTTING FLESH", a harder-edged track with a beat and screechy drones. The layers of sound are like the layers of flesh being examined in a video nasty or, perhaps, an early Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson film. There's still a pop sensibility despite the gore. "FORSAKEN LANDSCAPE" is bleak, a mess of damaged computers, tangled wires, hissing static Shinya Tsukamoto nightmare. Someone cries out in the montage of agony, and perhaps there is some kind of redemption at the end. "THE SKY TURNED BLACK" is another spooky track. I spent a few days last week in a cold RV. This reminds me of the feeling I got during the first few nights when I wondered what was outside. The different effects and instruments on this track are really expertly done, and I think that this could work very well in a horror video game (really thinking of Darkwood here).

The short "MANIFESTATION" begins the second side. I find this track somewhat out of place, slightly cheesy, at least at first. A sort of horror-synthwave, the track makes some sense as it goes, but the chunky instruments feel like they are from a Perturbator album instead. "VIRTUAL VANITAS" goes back to the hauntings, a cloudy mirror in an abandoned mansion somewhere in the Japanese countryside with a portal, or at least a vision, to a calmer realm. This one is a little uninspired-sounding; I can't really explain why. I do like it overall, but it feels slightly less polished than much of the first side. "ZEITGEIST" is the creepiest track yet with horrid voices, odd ringing, and sounds of chains or pipes. Creaky doors and all, it's a scary soundscape. "THE HORIZON FADES AWAY" is a calmer track, a penultimate resolution similar to a more ethereal battle with Lordran's Lord of Cinder. It's a transitory track into the true ending, "OBSCURE MEDITATION". Was it all a dream occurring from the tormented mind? Or is this a funeral dirge, a bagpipe-played song for those lost, a transition to an otherworld?

I do not have the answer for you, dear readers. I can recommend this release whole-heartedly, however. ETERNAL NIGHT is a greatly imaginative work that expresses fears that combine the paranormal with the mundane. On chilly nights such as this, I may have the album playing somewhere in the background to ready myself against always new terrors.

ETERNAL NIGHT receives a Good.

1

So I am writing a new review about a jankyswans album that I got earlier this month. The album is called Summer in Real-Time, but as I am writing this it is the start of fall. Just earlier tonight, two old men fought on live TV, their blood coating thousands of hands, hearts, and minds that will go on to touch screens or write names on paper. This world is not what I expected to find when I was thinking of the future when I was younger. I certainly didn't think Skull Valley would turn into the a very erratic review of jankyswans tapes and other internet miscellenea as my own musick output moves from garage punk to vaporwave. The world is always changing, always moving; one day, you look outside and the grass has turned blue, and there are no birds anymore. Climate change, civil war, voter fraud, pandemic - it's all coming together. It doesn't seem good.

Thankfully, Summer in Real-Time is Good. The album was composed one track per week during the past months of chaos and protest. While I consider David of jankyswans a friend, I did buy the tape. This isn't a paid promotion. I did like the album though, so no surprises there.

The album art shows a sunset over a thin forest. The pink clouds and green sky provide a feel of nostalgic loss with a sense of hope. The rippled clouds remind me of fire, a setting sun on a damaged planet. But the open sky at the top reminds me that there is hope for the future if we take care and participate in the world. Dear readers, please remember that.


"strettchh" opens the album like an opening cutscene or musick from a video game menu. It's poppy, layered, and energetic. Next, "wanderr" slows things down with strands of sound that seem to crest hills of swaying green. The song changes quite a bit as it moves along with flourishes and dark tones. "retrogreyed" has some big sweeping bads as you might find in a neon grid somewhere beyond those fields we know. The basslines have a chunky, slimey sound. Overall it kind of sounds like a factory level or something. "clearing" is another nice track, this time with big dynamics created through a heavier drum sound, floating chimes, and stabs. clearing really evolves as the song continues, much of it changing but enough of the rhythm staying similar enough to not lose the listener. "sixcrystals" is kind of spooky. I like the mystical tone to the instruments, the weird drum sound, and the climbing melodies in the middle of the track. This must be the song you might hear during a revelation about needing to find six McGuffins to save the world. I imagine one of the old-school Final Fantasy games.

Side two starts with the unique "sinkhole". This track sounds a little sad, and it makes me think of the odd situation earlier this year where a bus fell into a huge sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh. Like that surreal event, this song had me thinking about the strange nature of the world I mentioned earlier. The real world feels like a comic book or movie nowadays. I felt sad. I don't have much to say about "saturnate". It's a very unique song with totally different instrumentation than the other tracks. There is almost a Russian element to the chord progression. Moving along, "envelope" has a wistful, nostalgic feel to it. It reminds me of Earthbound or Undertalewith an additional cinematic element near the end. "bind" continues the Earthbound sound, this time more of the weirder sounds instead of the Sound Stone-esque sounds. It's kind of a rocker, but it has something like a xylophone too. It's also maybe like a quarter of the way into dungeon synth or something (I await the jankyswans dungeon synth record because that would be great). "drifft" is more like classic vaporwave than maybe any other jankyswans track I have heard. It has that detuned bass, but it quickly turns back into the vapory chiptune trademark. I like the little cat and pfone sounds. "summerend" is the end if you didn't buy the album. It's the shortest song at under two minutes, and it very much does sound like the end to something. It's cold and dark, a chilly cave or dungeon that opens into the hero walking into the sunset. This could maybe be in a Mega Man X game. For album buyers. the final track is "numbers station", which, in contrast, is the longest song on the album. It's a spookier, more mechanical song than other songs by the artist with a frog-like synth and vocals akin to the stations mentioned by the title. Is there a message to these numbers like the ones supposedly given to spies over the radio?

I really enjoyed Summer in Real-Time. I do wish there was slightly more variety, and it was a little longer than expected. However, the tracks are very solid, emotionally investing, and layered with sounds to explore over multiple listens. It is a nice snapshot of the strange summer of this year, something that seems like a page from a novelist's hand.

Summer in Real-Time receives a Good.

As a special present, here are some download codes to get this album for free. They are first-come, first-serve and redeemable at https://bandcamp.com/yum.

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