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Three Songs No Flash

Crashing Through Colourful Portals: Iglooghost At Village Underground Reviewed
The Quietus , October 18th, 2017 09:04

The UK-based bedroom producer turned Brainfeeder Records prodigy brings his digital universe to the stage. By Sukanya Deb.

Genius Lyrics' entries on Iglooghost look very much like internet shitpost humour to me. His newly released first album Neō Wax Bloom, along with previous EPs and mixtapes have been documented on the website, but most of the entries are made of measured guesses, question marks, and "[non-lyrical vocals]". Though probably unintended, the entries seem part of that internet humour that gestures towards the ahistoric, distancing nature of digital. You don’t need them in order to enjoy the music, but the vocal noises do help populate the fictional world he encounters: the voice samples tend to be unintelligible, warped beyond recognition, sped-up high-pitched cartoon-like utterances. Other samples are mixed to leave no resemblance to the original, contributing to a tonally unified, unique fictional soundscape.

The UK-based bedroom producer turned Brainfeeder Records prodigy is playing at Village Underground, London, with two labelmates - Lapalux and Daedelus. Village Underground reminds me of a granary, at least the main room does, with its 100-or-so-ft ceiling, brick walls and rectangular structure. The sound was packed tight through the night, concentrated towards the front, booming. Iglooghost walks on stage first and gets right to it, after a few awkward but cheerful waves. It is as immaculately chaotic as you'd imagine, with his signature tone of accelerating candy-coated electronic.

Iglooghost looks like a little boy, and his records speak of adventures with otherworldly creatures inhabiting their own realms, apparently accessible from his backyard. These worlds involve time-warping ancient forces that inform the starting point of Neō Wax Bloom, the creatures that inhabit them, and a sequel to the adventures of a gelatinous trans-dimensional traveller, Xiāngjiāo (which, I have recently learnt, means 'banana' in Mandarin). Xiāngjiāo wears a witch hat and a claymation scowl. All Iglooghosts do. Our Iglooghost describes himself in various bios as a 13-year-old boy and tonight has on a white T-shirt with minimal design, glasses, a cap with googly eyes (which are a recurring motif in his music and also a reference to emoji stylisation of the 'oo' in Iglooghost's Twitter handle et al). After spending an unreasonable amount of time trying to figure out how old he is, I have now finally situated him around my age, in his early twenties.

I find it impossible not to think of Iglooghost's output alongside Adventure Time and Japanese video game sounds. He reminds me of a younger cousin who was very smart at a young age, with a hyperactive imagination, who grew up on Cartoon Network. The digital world helps to sustain Iglooghost's detailed universe - in order to experience his full fictional world, you put the pieces together from tweets, music videos, you spot the self-referential mythology in his mixtapes, the EP, the album. There is continuity, an internal verisimilitude. If you buy Neō Wax Bloom on vinyl, you can get a comic book about the fictional world of Mamu. It's a late-night internet rabbithole, is what I'm saying. The attached visual aspect came flooding back to me during his performance.

Watching Iglooghost perform live makes me wonder if he prefers his music to be experienced in the privacy and comfort of the bedroom. His dancing involves jerking his body from side to side, registering the full force of the beats, as if they’re knocking him about. He never loses track; the crowd can only hope to keep up, and boy do we try. There’s plenty of vigorous dancing along to the breakneck beats. Although a visually bare performance - no animated or computer-generated videos like you might get at a Flying Lotus gig - the music is somehow enough for a full sensory experience, catapulting sounds at every moment.

Visual immediacy is essential to the digital experience, and Iglooghost’s pairing of visual and sonic is a statement. Since Iglooghost produces his own artwork, with a distinctive look to unify the experience, the immediate visual impact is inextricably linked to the vision he had for the album. Looking through this lens, it seems like Iglooghost’s fictionalising project through sound design reinforces an ahistorical experience in the samples' defiant distancing from recognisable, natural sound. There’s a definite playfulness to it, too, beyond the perfectly ahistorical, synthetic sounds we encounter - for example, he uses his father and sister’s voices and it’s almost like a game trying to guess where they are in the samples.

Iglooghost's music is geared towards immediate sensory experience. Sometimes it feels like being pelted with gumdrops - it’s as chaotic and encompassing of electronic music as can be within an album, yet it overflows. And it puts together elements of jazz, hip hop, grime, breakcore; it's like watching an attention span unravelling outwards. When the eyeballs crash into Mamu, the creatures that inhabit the land are left in a mess. In my mind I see Yomi, a monk, conjuring colourful shapes and an unnamed Iglooghost whizzing around through colourful portals on a strawberry, detonating candies around him by taking off the wrappers. The intricacies of Iglooghost's universe are a treat to explore.

The crowd is friendly and energetic, lots of smiles around and nice energy. A tall man behind me in a black Deafhaven T-shirt is very much into the music, dancing at full speed. Funny and endearing. Gig crowds can be loud, obtrusive and obnoxious, but it feels like a genuine love for Iglooghost has brought people there, myself included. He’s met with thank-yous and pats on the back from the front of the crowd after his set. And the audience chants along during the set, with the few lyrics that can be made out in his music:

"PALE MINT TONGUE / PINK TAI CHI / BIG, GOLD FRIEND / BLACK COOL SHOE"

Iglooghost spends barely any time interacting with the audience. The one time he speaks into the microphone is a yell - "NEW SHIT" - to indicate a shift towards his new songs. He doesn't spare time between the songs to go along with audience hype. Impatient. He does acknowledge the hype though, nods of registration and thanking the crowd. The exchanges seemed tiny but meaningful. The recognition and critical acclaim he has received are impressive given that it's only been a few weeks since he released his first full-length album. The bedroom producer populates the digital world, though, in Reddit lists and Soundcloud links. I felt fixated on this fact, that he said so little and kept his anonymised fictional persona, after travelling such a long way from Mamu.

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