Boomkat Product Review:
Vaporwave pioneer Parish Bracha - who released the iconic 'Hologram Plaza' album as Disconscious a decade ago - returns with a new album under his own name, turning harpsichord, church organ, violin and piano sounds into suspended granulations.
It's always interesting to see a previously anonymous artist not only unmask themselves but continue the story years later. Bracha's earlier material was pivotal in the development of the "mallsoft" sound, but the artist has broken from that world almost completely here. 'Cascades of Refinement' is his attempt to create a dialog between the digital world and the organic, and he manages this by recording an arsenal of acoustic instruments and subjecting them to his careful digital treatments. When he started the process, Bracha wanted to devise electro-acoustic material using just piano and strings, but lockdown interrupted his plans. Stuck in stasis, he was limited to sampled instrumentation and in-the-box processes only, but once he started working with these sounds he realized it would be an important part of the development. And as soon as lockdown was over, he began reintroducing the acoustic sounds.
The main event is Bracha's four 'Cascade' pieces that get to the heart of the producer's concept. Sprawling and cinematic, 'Cascade I' develops from tense orchestral melodrama into glassy, digital abstraction, gradually becoming more dense until it trips into 'Cascade II'. The second segment is more illusory, with plasticated piano improvisations that turn into synthesized wobbles, bell-like trills and detuned, videogame chimes. On 'Cascade III', Bracha introduces a speedy white noise rhythm, that he accompanies with similarly paced piano runs - music that would be unbelievably difficult (if not impossible) to replicate in the flesh, and with 'Cascade IV' he blurs the sounds into a haunted memory, letting piano notes turn into beautiful vapor trails.