Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
Undeniably one of the most exciting artists making vaporwave since the release of HEAVEN CRY around this time last year. DATAGIRL has been floating around the digispace featuring on Donor Lens Midnight Store and dropping tracks from a forthcoming release. It seems the time has come for our journey with the artist to begin, as newly released Destination Spa sees DATAGIRL combining beautifully pristine digital art with a new full-length album.
A short time submerged in cool blue water begins Welcome. The listener emerges from an aqueous realm to calming pads and the sound of nature surrounding them. A deep voice inspires feelings of relaxation. DATAGIRL ingratiates us gently at first, we sit and enjoy ourselves in the atmosphere rather than immediately interacting with our surroundings.
We find ourselves at the bar, a crisp piece of ice clinking gently against a martini glass. After awhile the general ambience becomes awash with Bossa Nova-style vocals. The melody is explicit and clear, but stays airy and light. And just when the time is right, the artist sweeps in with a heavy low end bass and percussive section. Something about the sound is still canned though, still effected in some way. It’s as if we watch a small troop of musicians parading along the smooth surface of the bar, a strange hallucination brought about by the heat and general relaxing aura.
Grapes from the Vine brings more smooth, charming instrumentation with it. Floating down through tinny frequencies to a more fully-formed sound. DATAGIRL brings the whole thing together with a hammering kick drum. The melodic sample simmers just behind the beat, cutting out and wavering slightly at times like a beautiful mirage. The artist winds the beat back at points, swiping at the atmosphere so we can watch it judder and lost its shape if only for an instant. The environment is irresistible, though we are playfully reminded of its flimsiness from time to time.
Lapping water brings choral voices across to us, on the water. Drawn to them at first, the listener almost recoils at their austere nature. Religious in sound, their existence seems to contradict the easygoing vibe of everything around us. Before we can understand or comprehend the voices, we are beckoned into a slick new age beat with swelling pads and rhythmic chimes. A deep panpipe fires off long, drawn out notes next to sharp riffs. The instrument sounds as if it were in the throes of a deep emotion, unable to help itself from shooting upward at the end of notes or phrases. As calming water trickles, the reverent voices return. Something deeper than mere unwinding is taking place. A trip into DATAGIRL’s spa seems to request that you begin a deep soul search even a moment after entry. We were only being served a martini a minute ago, now we plummet deep within ourselves in Full Body Immersion.
Waiting in the Changing Hut begins with a dynamic range of sibilant percussion before diving into muddy keys. Another panpipe makes its entrance, more suave than it was before. The tune is transitory as you’d expect from a song played in a changing hut. Its inherently cool style invites the listener to enter into a movie where they are the subject, readying them to burst back out onto the spa floor with renewed vigour. That beautifully incidental vibe is hard to capture, but is achieved perfectly.
More stylish sounds on Cocktails Beneath the Veranda. DATAGIRL combines that calm and collected feeling with the Bossa Nova sensibility from the start of our journey. Muted trumpets play a catchy riff that is then taken on by a chorus of voices. We can see the sky from where we sit, but the cool atmosphere is definitely more attuned to the spa’s layout than what’s happening in the sky. The track casts this beautifully calming hue over everything. Bamboo floors and fixtures offset lush green flora as we watch the sun cool on the horizon.
A predictably sweltering start to Exhale in the Steam Room that features Donor Lens. Heated water vapour dances gracefully through the air above us. Beautiful smooth keys turn from liquid to air before we launch into a lounge-y percussive refrain. The two artists waste no time with squelching bass, a synth lead that seems to bubble to the surface of the mix and a vocal sample that seems to float towards us from a realm of pure relaxation. Donor Lens inject this wonderful guitar work in the second half of the track. It even sticks around as DATAGIRL drops a whole bucket of water on the searing rocks and envelopes the room in a deep, shifting drumbeat.
Swirling drums and synth give way to a heavy rattling beat as Wading in the Mineral Pools begins. The perfect salve to the heat of the last track, the atmosphere is open and clear. DATAGIRL keeps the percussion interesting with trickling hi hats. Voices reverberate in the tiled pool area, seeming to make the water we move through vibrate. An arpeggiator plays out a simplistic tune, everything is easy. The melodic side of the track ensures that that emotion so often accompanying the experience of water is evident. It is rejuvenating for the listener and moves seamlessly into the next track.
Sunset/Reverie feels as though our time at the spa is slowly coming to an end. We revel in the surrounding area a bit more than the services DATAGIRL’s establishment offers. Another deep beat moves forward in calculated manner. A voice echoes to us from beyond the spa’s walls, the outside world beckoning us back. The aura fading away from us slowly, though we still feel reenergised from our experience. The beat seems to move us toward the large archway beyond the azure pool.
A chime signals our exit from the spa. But, we can’t leave before taking one look back. And as we do, our sight is filled once again with the relaxing aura of emanating from beyond the stone pillars at the entrance. DATAGIRL sending warm samples floating gently towards those leaving and entering for the first time. The feeling is of heat and friendliness, but the melody is like something that would play from tinny speakers above us as we come out into the real world once again. We Hope You Enjoyed Your Stay is a beautiful swan song, nodding toward the Bossa Nova style once again with floaty organ melodies.
Destination Spa is the best kind of surprise. Instead of careering straight towards otherworldly sounds and a new age feeling, DATAGIRL opts for an endearing style. Lulling the listener in with warm, pulsating instrumentation and that laidback South America-inspired rhythm and melody. From there, the artist is able to tease the verisimilitude of the scene we are immersed in using sound manipulation and the blending of other styles. Beautifully subtle and attentive to its task, Destination Spa is truly enchanting.