Listencorp review image of reality by scamlines




Liam Murphy

January 17, 2021

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

A series of visits to a strange consumerist space humming with otherworldliness

The familiar sounds of a mall fill the listener’s ears. A cold piano melody drips nervously at first, scared to make itself known in an atmosphere of indifferent commercial pursuit. The musical parts dive lower and louder, gaining confidence and sending plumes of bass through the expansive foyers. But as the music begins to dance and pirouette, we can hear it is restricted. Its resonance sounds imprisoned somewhere in the space. The more it dazzles with passionate performance, the harder it pushes up against a ceiling that seems to warp and distort it. Meanwhile consumers and groups of people begin to walk in front of us. We are some distance from the musical spectacle, cut off by gaggles of shoppers ignorant of the display. Though it is encased, unable to bloom fully, the vocal and instrumentation are touching. The melodies hit that sweet spot between warm and welcoming public space music, and a heartfelt plea from the musicians to passers-by to recognise their beauty or at least identify them as being there. Sustained strings die out. There is a certain inevitability in the general sounds of movement and chatter, a feeling that though the music has ended, the general buzz of people moving through the mall never will. 

暗屋づ]pondsbrings a more boisterous musical agent into the pristine shopping space. A determined song with a marching thrum blasts through the space. The heavy-set nature of the music bounces off its restrictions causing the surroundings to hum and wobble. The rock-y style is less intent on serving its purpose as simply ‘nice background music’. Searing guitars warble down the shopfronts and attack members of the public. It is impossible to carry out a conversation, at least from where the listener sits. scamlines bolsters middle and lower frequencies, and in doing so brings the track into a more focal positioning. The jazzy piano and emerging choirs are unshackled by the restrictive tinniness of speakers. It certainly does feel as though the mall-goers are shaken by its tenacity. We hear nervous laughter, and the hooting of owls as music seems to have driven everyone outdoors with its triumphant spirit.

Explorative electric piano chords and an eager bassline soothe the unsure atmosphere. The feeling enshrined within Hypermall20XX is one of hope and optimism through the hue of slightly ostentatious brightness. The soft beats leading the flute-like lead melody, inoffensive but buoyant. It is as if the speaker system is recoiling from its uncharacteristic outburst in the last track, recalibrating itself to align with the spirit of consumer-driven goodness. 

The mall evaporates momentarily on 入るB. We are welcomed to a dark expanse, possibly the same shopping centre but from another time or era. Archaic synth chords echo through desolate walkways and corridors. The sounds of movement and consumerist activity kick in once again, and scamlines superimposes one reality onto another, blending the two. Rumbling pads lay an ominous foundation upon which everything moves. Uncertain synth notes feel their way through the off-kilter vision of the mall. Everything is a little more unstable than the tracks that have come before. The dark chords begin to push more powerfully against the background noise, their sounds becoming more foreboding and creepy. The artist successfully displays the space as derelict and buzzing with life at the very same time.

A great mystic bird makes itself at home in the rafters of the pristine building on magicmountains. Its persistent cawing bouncing through the brutally hard surfaces of the shopping centre. Once again, it feels like we see the location in some sort of distant time or epoch. The space feels the same, but is characterised and illustrated in a completely different phase than the friendly reality of shopping and entertainment we all know. Great glacial pad sounds push intently against the walls of the track, desperate to burst forth from another set of restrictive EQs and filters. What we can hear feels like a struggle between the submerging power of nature and the sturdy and durable structure of capitalism. As if the mall was home to an array of surreal and futuristic creatures, but throughout its repurposing it maintained that look of a place to shop for pointless objects and pursue vain desires. The beautiful sounds of life trying over time to shift the building from a manufactured reality to a pure one.

A lumbering rhythm of chopped up sounds and echoes marches. The calculated impact of each step producing a tubular percussive note. It is as if the mall had now been weaponised in some dystopic future. Taking with it all the souls and experiences of shoppers and mall-goers as this great stone behemoth set course across a grassless dead landscape. CASCADE~~[shoppe] dies out abruptly sending a juddering synth note peeling into the darkness before coming to a stop.

scamlines takes the study of mall music to an incredibly imaginative place on reality™. From the start, there is something different in the way the mall is presented. The background chatter and movement of people makes us feel like a spectator. But as the project progresses we are forced to move with the artist to increasingly warped and distorted worlds. The premise for the project is fairly large and unwieldy, but the artist successfully manages to showcase deeply touching moments while building strange and distorted visions of reality.