Embryonic is an electronic producer from Montréal, Quebec. Their music is best described as a combination of Dreamwave, Retrowave, Spacewave, with a dash of Vaporwave. Their first album “Terra Navigation Protocol” was released on October 30th, 2020.

The artwork, by Jeffrey Zico, is one part otherworldly, and two parts psychedelic. It features a figure looking up into a hypnotic sky and a dying neon star. The details in the foreground remind me of a vast and desolate sci-fi landscape. It wouldn’t be out of place in a Rick and Morty episode, or in Heavy Metal magazine. I quite enjoy the visuals here, but I think the yellow and blue color scheme is slightly too bombastic/loud for the soothing sounds that lie within “Terra Navigation Protocol.”

Amidst the backdrop of ambient pads and breathy atmosphere, the first thing that stuck out to me about “Terra Navigation Protocol,” was the wind. Oh goddess, there’s so much wind on this album. There’s also a tasteful implementation of shoegaze style guitars present throughout parts of the the album. If I had to describe the visual that this entire album gives me, it’s like watching dry ice sublimate.

The intro track, “Tales of Pilgrim and Exiled,” begins with a metallic sort of energy. It slowly eases into a space more akin to proper Dreamwave–complete with faded subtle pitch bending here and there for effect. This track feels like floating above a lifeless wind tunnel above a far-flung planetary body. “Tales of Pilgrim and Exiled,” shows off a little bit of what “Terra Navigation Protocol” does, and serves as an awesome opening which leads into the first proper track, “Empty Chrysalis.” “Empty Chrysalis” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to getting into the thick of what it’s trying to accomplish. Everything, the drums, guitars, pads, and low end are all present from the moment the track begins. As I close my eyes I see flashes of light pass before my eyes transitioning from one time of my life into another. At around 2:20 there’s a neat distant guitar tremolo carrying the spacey vibe of this song further that reminds me of mid-2000s atmospheric black metal.

“Deadform” enters with a cold set of pads that remind me of a spiritual awakening in a way. Like, you know when you think you have everything in life figured out and then the gods send down a little reminder that you don’t? That’s what this song sounds like to me. There’s not much guitar here, but it does make an appearance at the end of the track that brings the song to a satisfying resolution.

“De Valore Doloris,” (aka my favorite track from “Terra Navigation Protocol”) channels a starry sort of epicness that reminds me of Hans Zimmer’s work on “Interstellar.” This song feels like watching the complete life cycle of a person from womb to tomb. It all feels quite sad when you really think about it. The feeling that this song stirred up within me wasn’t unlike having to say goodbye to someone you love for the last time. The plucky, harp-like synths here sit well within the spacious and (once again) windy vibe going on here.

Up next is the title track, which revisits some of what “De Valore Doloris” is doing, with guitars being front and center for most of the track. “The North Star,” combines sparkling keys with a post-synthwave thematic structure that slightly shifts halfway into the song. Images that came into my head for this song include watching a fledgling android stumble out into the world for the first time, only in reverse. “Stranger” opens with a high pitched blurry sort of bell that feels watery and dangerous. The Juno-esque pad present on “The North Star” makes its return as a texture that bridges the gap between the breathiness of this track and the guitars in the background towards the center of the song.

“The Candor Rift,” which is my second favorite track from this album, reminds me of the title track a lot, only better. It’s slow, plodding, and chock full of guitars. There’s a nice lead that enters in at 1:56 that serves as a pseudo-guitar solo due to where it sits in the mix. At 3:04 a slow arpeggio enters and quietly leaves. Images of floating out in a lonely, cold, dark space bombard me whenever I listen to this one. “Orbiters” channels much of the same energy found on the title track and “The Candor Rift,” there’s guitars, pads, and windy atmosphere galore. Finally, “L’absolutiste,” is a track that could’ve been a good opener for the album, but instead was chosen, wisely, in my opinion, to close out “Terra Navigation Protocol.” The highlight of this track was the synth that comes in at around the 2:36 mark.

Overall, “Terra Navigation Protocol,” is an album comprised of three primary sounds: wet (albeit) clean guitars, breathy pads, and metallic mid-to-high frequency sounding keys. I really enjoy that the sounds Embryonic decided on weren’t used once and thrown away. I think that in order to maintain a certain flavor on an album, that it’s good to pick from a carefully selected palette of sounds. Embryonic does just that. Sprinkled throughout this album are some signs of subtle melody, but for the most part “Terra Navigation Protocol” feels like one continuous thought as opposed to ten individual tracks. Don’t come into this one expecting slamming drums, or a pronounced low end. You won’t find that. Embryonic isn’t about rocking and rolling, Embryonic is about evoking strong emotions. Emotions that want to sweep you away into their wake and take you far, far away…to another time, another planet, another life.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Cinematic Dreamwave, and Spacewave,

STAND-OUT TRACKS: “De Valore Doloris,” “Deadform,” “The Candor Rift,” and “Empty Chrysalis.”

Album color profile: #FCE4EC (when I close my eyes I see this color when listening to “Terra Navigation Protocol”)

You can find all things Embryonic on https://embryonic.bandcamp.com/

空YAMAHA (aka Sky Yamaha) is a producer from the desert planet Arizona. She has been producing under this moniker since February of 2017. Since then Sky has released two short EPs and two full-lengths. Her latest is entitled “The Mirage is a Portal.” It was released on October 9th, 2020.

I became aware of Sky via the Synthfam Twitterverse after crossing the streams from Synthwave Twitter over into dark (and often very weird) recesses of Vaporwave Twitter. There I found a wild Sky just doing her own thing. The best way I can describe 空YAMAHA to those unfamiliar with her work is that it never tries to emulate a specific style or sound. It has a natural flow to it that is clearly defined by the nearly endless depth of her creativity and imagination. I guess if I had to compare her work to someone else, I would say that it very much reminds me of what Alpha Chrome Yayo has been doing over the course of his last two albums “Skylight Sessions Vol. 1” and “Spectral Hands.”

The cover art work (created by Sky herself) for “The Mirage is a Portal” is by far the coolest piece of art on any 空YAMAHA release. It features floating keys, day lightning (dafuq?!), crows flying out of portals in the keyholes of said keys, a desert, and a beautiful blue sky, which accentuates precisely the vibe Sky is pulling off here. When I take a step back and look at this image I feel oddly calm and kind of thirsty. Sky included a digital artbook in PDF form to accompany the release of “The Mirage is a Portal.” This includes images corresponding to each track as well as poetry. This digital artbook was a really nice Bandcamp exclusive extra. Have I said how much I love Bandcamp?

So how does “The Mirage is a Portal” sound? Every piece on this album seamlessly melds together into a whirlwind collage of three dimensional ideas. There’s a weird Windows ’95 quality to this music that makes me long for CRT computer screens, 66 MHz Pentiums, and the Dangerous Creatures desktop theme. Like—I could see this music being front and center on an old laserdisc showing off the latest in computer animation (brought to you by Silicon Graphics) in the mid-90s.

I’ve listened to “The Mirage is a Portal” at least ten times since its release and it makes me feels like I’m having an out of body experience whenever I press play. Time just melts away when diving into this album. And while I think it’s a little too energetic for meditation, I do think that “The Mirage is a Portal” is a good example of how to make relaxing tunes worthy of being the soundtrack to your next lucid dream. I particularly think that this album shines bright in its latter half. “Desert Mirage” was my favorite deep-cut off of the entire album. It combines a pseudo-Asian feel with a slow koto sounding vibe surrounded by slow pulled strings in an embrace of all surrounding sound. “Prism Water Arc” is another nice track that has some off center hi-hat hits don’t sound musical at all—but for some reason they really gel. I quite like the plodding water sound going on in this track as well. “Prism Water Arc” feels like it’s capturing the journey of some clockwork type of machine trying to traverse a muddy desert in search of meaning. “Lifesize Hourglass” has a calming vibe that prominently features a basic house drum beat amidst huge sounding, reverb heavy, modular synths that feel distant yet very near. I like the space that Sky gives this track, she never overloaded me with sounds that took away from my experience. “El Laberinto” was the other highlight of “The Mirage is a Portal.” It opens up with a very dangerous sounding vibe that is immediately given levity with the presence of a goofy cowbell that sounds similar to the one found on the Roland CR-8000.

Overall, “The Mirage is a Portal,” is a neat experience. This isn’t music meant to stir up anxiety or negative feelings. This is the type of music that wants to wrap it’s arms around you in a warm embrace of lush winding soundscapes. If you’re remotely interested in checking this out I implore you to give it a good listen with headphones. iPhone speakers aren’t going to cut it here. Anyway, I loved this album! Please check it out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of lush soundscapes and dreamwave, fans of Alpha Chrome Yayo.

HIGHLIGHTS: “Desert Mirage,” “Prism Water Arc,” “Lifesize Hourglass,” “El Laberinto,” and “Embodiment.”

Album Color Profile: BLUE BECAUSE OF COURSE (#304FFE)

You can find all things 空YAMAHA at https://skyyamaha.bandcamp.com/

Winterquilt is the project of a nameless producer from Liverpool in the UK. Combining elements from symphonic black metal and vaporwave, Winterquilt creates a fascinating amalgamation of sounds that is bewildering, enjoyable, and cathartic. Winterquilt’s latest release entitled “O’Discordia” was released on August 24th, 2020 through Geometric Lullaby.


The cover artwork for “O’Discordia” by Fvckrender is quite a beautiful piece. It stands out amidst the rest of Winterquilt’s releases as my favorite visual style of the bunch. There’s just something incredibly pleasing about looking a giant chromatic serpent slithering through a rose bush. The artwork fits right in with the Satanic vibe of “O’Discordia.” Aesthetically, this is slick and well-executed.


Musically, “O’Discordia” reminds me of the first time I listened to Arcturus’s “La Masquerade Infernale”…way back in 1997. I feel that both albums do something really similar, where “La Masquerade Infernale” combined a Black Metal sensibility with avant-garde Symphonic Metal, Winterquilt combines the sensibility of a Vaporwave artist with Symphonic Black Metal. The result, at least in my view, is mostly successful, however, without the presence of guitars or any physical instruments it makes me wonder how this would’ve turned out had an actual band collaborated to actually perform what occurs on this release. From a technical stand-point, the virtuoso-esque dynamics explored throughout “O’Discordia” have been greatly demystified as the proliferation of DAWs becomes more commonplace in the hands of the general public. Don’t get me wrong, what Winterquilt has done here is breathtaking—but it wouldn’t exist in its current form without the exploitation of complicated MIDI-manipulation via Piano Roll “painting.” This is an album that wouldn’t have existed thirty years ago. Especially not at the hands of a single producer as a lot of what’s going on here would be near impossible to play. That said, I think that part of the fun of “O’Discordia” lies in that simple fact—its impossibility.

At about 2:30 into “His cloven hoof (feat. Naut)” I was flabbergasted by the sonic textures of what I was hearing. Winterquilt combines all of the good elements of late 90s progressive black metal (especially with regards to the drums), cartoony elevator jingles, and Bach. Winterquilt creates space by really laying down hard on the reverb but not so hard that it distorts the original sounds used here. The subtle use of piano is nice, as it creates a certain ambient kind of reflection allows the music to breathe. There’s a good deal of plucky metallics going on throughout “O’Discordia” that are filtered through various LFOs, pitch bends, and portamentos that give a bouncy sort of warmth to this album.

“I’m thinkin of you.. (feat. sage hardware)” stands out as my personal favorite from “O’Discordia.” There’s a couple of reasons for this. The strings on this sound vibrant and alive, but not so alive that they sound like the blah-blah soundtracky Hans Zimmer quality that’s all the rage in the Synthwave scene. These strings are cheesy AF and harken back to projects like Limbonic Art or “Prometheus…” era Emperor. The drums sound rather “human,” albeit in a Deathspell Omega “Drought” sort of way. Winterquilt also tastefully (and unironically) uses that familiar downsampled, slow as molasses, Vaporwave vocal we’ve all grown to love. The kicker, is that instead of coming off as a novelty, it adds real, tangible weight to this song. Go figure. Truly, this is the high water mark of this album.

The title track “O’Discordia (feat. fire-toolz)” is also nothing short of an orchestral odyssey, but it builds upon what the two tracks before it did. It also adds an extra dollop of glitch into the mix that keeps the forward momentum of the album fresh. I particularly enjoy the “applause” that occurs at around 7:30. It just adds a slight visual element that makes me think of some twisted kind of carnival stage show starring the Marquis De Sade himself. The first time I heard the “Boogie” vocal come in, I didn’t really like it, but after a few spins of this album, I think it’s a neat little nod to proper Vaporwave. I quite enjoy it.

The final song “The Pathos of Things” is an upbeat instrumental tribute to the dreamfunky t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者. It reminds me (greatly) of Arcturus’s “Aspera Hiems Symfonia,” both in general vibe and execution.

I often wonder the direction music will take after the “new-car smell” of extreme automation, glitch, and filters finally wears off. Something tells me it’s only going to get weirder from here. As a traditional flesh and bone musician, I feel that the sort of thing Winterquilt is presenting with “O’Discordia” is absolute fucking sacrilege, but as an fellow artist I can’t help but absolutely admire what they’ve done with this album. I think that while Vaporwave can occasionally sound like nightmare fuel, Winterquilt has given that idea legs by creating something frightening, beautiful, and a little controversial (due to how it was artistically constructed).

I think it takes a lot balls to release an album like this. So please check it out. It’s definitely going to be a nominee on my personal list for 2020’s album of the year.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who aren’t scared to admire art.

STAND-OUT TRACKS: “I’m thinkin of you.. (feat. sage hardware),” “O’Discordia (feat. fire-toolz)”

Album Color Profile: #8E44AD

You can find all things Winterquilt at https://winterquilt.bandcamp.com/