Perfect Chao’s new EP-going-on-mixtape is true to the artist’s name – charismatic and playful at every turn.
Perfect Chao’s almost self-titled new project “Prfct!cha0” better captures nostalgia than any music released this year. The California musician uses synthetic sound palettes to illustrate generational yearning for colour and simplicity, contrasting this with blistering, euphoric drum and bass. With the speed and roaring vigour of these nine songs Chao engages both sides of this audience; that inner child looking for past comforts and the adult ever in need of dopamine. In a world as fast as our own, where every life is at breakneck pace, Chao’s rapid beats are appropriate and immediately gratifying. Their approach to sound design is generous and playful. Songs like “Stretched Out” heavy with vocal and video game samples, duelling drum channels, and unpredictably timed melodies have the makings of chaos, but the raw fun of Chao’s vision comes through in the rich timbres and opportunistic use of the entire soundstage.
“Paradise”, like “Stretched Out”, is a busy mix, but one even more refined in its assembly. Drums are filed down by equalisers, leading to a massaging ‘whoosh’ effect. The only percussion that breaks through are stuttering claps that come and go in groups, rewarding the listener’s curiosity with new patterns. Oceanic piano chords and pitched up vocals form the core, with rounded kicks pulsing forwards. It’s rare to find music with such complimentary parts. This somewhat applies to the track progression too; not all of the songs flow into one another, but certain groups keep momentum rolling. The best example is around the tape’s midpoint, where the quiet drum games of “Trackball” battle cartoonishly villainous chords on “The Evil Behind The Fountain”.
Each new amusement hidden between the cracks of this project is an absolute joy to find – the distorted fuzz on closer “Dreamwall?” is intoxicating, the way the notes on “Terminal” trail off is sublime, the warring drums of “Garden Music” are a spectacle. The presentation of this work deserves recognition too – “The Fountain” mentioned earlier is depicted in pixels by artist greenrockyroad, along with a palm tree, a flowerbed, and a Chao character playing the keys. Physically the tape is available in a striking “Sonic Blue” cassette, true to the Chao’s origin (Bandcamp link below). Meticulous isn’t quite the right word – everything is passionately designed but retains the sense of never knowing what exactly will come next. The result of this labour of leisure and love is a cute and competent exploration, a supersonic adventure.
Listen to “Prfct!cha0” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)