pumpfake makes music for life’s confusions, playing with uncertainty rather than searching for clarity.
“spit (woah)”, the latest single from Philadelphia musician pumpfake, is enmeshed in confusion. The songs swirling beat reverses back into itself, lightly crystalised by a generously applied bitcrusher. Around halfway the beat switches slightly, giving an airy pad room to rise and allowing skittish drums to break through the song’s defenses. The production of “spit” gives no illusion of complexity, but this cracked refinement is made live by elements coming together into a single mechanism. pumpfake yells their first verse, but doesn’t scream. The kick drums smack and drill, but don’t explode. It’s busy, but unlike many songs in the surge / crushcore genre there’s no sense of chaos. Synthesiser stabs in the tune’s second half break apart like glitter, colourfully plastic.
As a vocalist pumpfake takes the role of controller; their absence gives the consistently shimmering instrumentals a green signal to evolve, and heavier performances (as on “spit”) consume more of the finite energy. “Sweater4”, released at the end of this summer, is a prime example. The song’s jagged and piercing synth leads conceal a tirade of information; pumpfake doesn’t get too involute lyrically but uses juxtaposition to frame the insane as normal. “Got me taking off my sweater, bitch I might pull out the gun” is a worrying spiral, mostly unintelligible under the beat’s kinetic exchange. However, just because they’re hard to understand doesn’t mean pumpfake’s presence is unfelt on “Sweater4”. There’s an arena of reverb on the vocals and beat alike, which makes each syllable a valuable checkpoint for listeners who may find themselves adrift on the tune’s ocean of harmony.
In forgoing the militant volatility of their peers pumpfake risks losing out on the energy surrounding crushed trap, but if there’s any song that proves their place in the scene it’s “Corridor Dreams”. True to the title, no time’s wasted in building an oneiric space. A matrix of soft sound fizzles through within seconds, soon joined by mantric chants from the artist; pumpfake’s delivery pulses and stutter; “All out when I go in never come out till the sun out” is one of many focused lines. The song is instantly replayable, soothing but purposeful. This music is music for life’s confusions, there are no questions, no answers, just viscerally in-the-moment experiences. Its synth-heavy production offers space when the walls are closing in, its cooling pace is an ocean in a desert; all these songs are laced with subdued hope and calming presence. pumpfake’s low-res worlds are the antidote to anxieties.
Watch the new video for “spit (woah)” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)