G A M E S H A R K – SHARK 3ネットフリックスとチル (2016)

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Packaged in a shroud of existential dread, SHARK 3 ネットフリックスとチル is the third full-length installment from G A M E S H A R K™, the recording name for Norwegian producer Echo H. Though previous releases have been categorized as vaporwave, SHARK 3 treads in the territory of self-described “existential IDM.” Echo’s music combines live instruments with sampled sounds and aims to present itself in such a way that neither are distinguishable from each other. Along with being thematically cohesive and acoustically rich, SHARK 3 is Echo’s most successful execution of this concept to date.

SHARK 3 approaches the discography’s existentialist and nihilist themes in a new way. Whereas previous releases use track titles (“Desolate”, “Isolate”, “Introspection”) and dreary album art depicting sharks brandishing martini glasses and vats of bleach (SHARK 2, Bleach/Escape), SHARK 3 makes use of samples from philosophy lectures to convey its overarching themes.

In philosophy, nihilism is defined as “extreme skepticism, maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.” “Nihil” captures this mindset through its use of philosophy lecture samples and glitch effects. The bold presence of the acoustic guitar in a reverberant space transforms the once intimate instrument into something much more massive and terrifying. For a moment, all is still. Upon announcing “God is dead,” the song descends into madness as the listener’s perception of reality is distorted through the use of glitching and sputtering effects.

Bleach,” one of the two singles from this album, stands out as the most multifaceted and diverse composition on SHARK 3. It recalls the crunchy and syncopated percussion used in Radiohead’s “15 Step” while mixing in wildly different yet complementary ideas.

This album is among the most interesting pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. While Echo’s previous albums stand out from each other stylistically while all sharing common themes, SHARK 3 ネットフリックスとチル succeeds in being her most thrilling and fascinating release yet.

Favorite Track: Bleach