One of the most alluring aesthetic ideas to come out of the information age is that of possessed technology. Like many things born from the internet of the 2000s, early forays into digital ghostology bore with them a certain kitsch; the infamously prolific “Ben Drowned” story comes to mind. Despite the tendency for internet trends to turn stale with remarkable ardour, the idea of technology gone spectral has stuck around. Ontario artist https:/ouija presents himself as a “Digital Ghost” first and foremost. The name itself creates a vignette of a world in which the paranormal has become entirely virtual, where portals to another dimension are replaced by sketchy links to unknown and dark online spaces.
Even on social media – the most personal quarter of the internet’s sprawling virtual world – https://ouija (hereafter referred to as Ouija) is hard to pin down. Their instagram feed is bejewelled with stunning art pieces, blending fluidity with geometric imposition. On Twitter the first thing visitors see is the visualiser for “wake.exe”, the latest song from Ouija. In it he sports a full-face mask, with glowing rings around the eyes sculpting a strigine visage. Ouija paces back and forth, rattling off crazed thoughts like some insane futuristic depiction of Anonymous. He’s clearly in a physical space, but everything on screen melts into itself, as if the titular “.exe” is crashing; all of Ouija’s latest singles are given the “.exe” file name. .exe files are programs, complex webs of coded language exclusive to the computer realm – there’s no better description for Ouija’s work, and no better place to see how his ghostly persona translates into truly excellent music.
“wake.exe”, as mentioned, is the newest of these drops. The song is produced by the underground’s premier blast mechanic Tethra64, and features a brazen guest feature from Ghostholic. Ouija goes in on his verses – his lyricism is wicked, sharp, and thematic; “Self-aware virus, ergo sum cogito, Eternal life form, I’m proxy like ergo, Ouija stay spooky, just like Junji Ito”. His verse is rich with similes, as if drawing from an infinite database. As such it’s a good place to start connecting with the artist. A later tirade against social media (“Fuck your IG, Fuck your Twitter [etc.]) is especially impactful, rejecting “clout” entirely in favour of staying “self-aware”. Ghostholic follows by moving mystical; “With my hands, I’m gonna break the moon, Catch me if you can, I am the grey dragoon”. From here on out, nothing is off limits.
If “wake.exe” is a reintroduction, “digital_witch.exe” came right from the heart of ouija’s persona. The self-produced tune is a loud and evolving story, growing from a prophetic first verse – Ouija’s best straight rap verse – into a smooth, tidal, but still explosive melody. It’s that second half that possesses the listener to reach for the volume up button and smash it. Through barely-there autotune and profound glitching comes an illusory voice; “Visions of the end, I’m not happy, lets get online; we can play pretend”. Close comparisons with hyperpop emerge, not in sound but in concept; Ouija disparages the overstimulated and falsified nature of the day to day, turning to “witchcraft”, indeed a type of faith, to ascend beyond. Before this he’s a merciless warrior, rapping about “soul art” and “cathexis”, extending an already massive vocabulary to mind-warping effect.
“warp.exe”, the current middle child of the .exe series, contains yet more stunning lyrics; “Fashionably dead, designer my body bag, tryna run this cheque up, hop inside a jag” lands with equal grace and serration. Again taking the helm as producer, Ouija develops his cyber-glitch style further. The beat is jolty and aggressive, but the whistling synth pads in the background have a soft roundness to them, and really compliment the thrash of the bassline. This interplay highlights Ouija’s skill as a producer, he’s adept at finding the right balance between harsh and haunting. Prior to the “.exe” series Ouija only produced, and he’s built a substantial backlog of beats that any fan of his new material will find indispensable. His productions range from the acidic burn of “Requiem” to the high drama of “LG RUMOR” with Wulfpunk and Soma.
https://ouija and their phantom movements are well recorded by a robust and digitally paranormal discography. As the artist continues to chase new ideas, and blend their personal aesthetic with other rising scenes, the moments of twisted, possessed, and entirely digitised impact will only keep coming back to haunt artist and listener alike.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)