Constellation Tatsu is the latest label to have questioned the notable absence of a tape deck in my home. The label’s summer batch is a marvel to behold. 3D images pop right out at you from the plastic casings’ modest dimensions and open up to a world of playful colours and jovial word-art greetings. At the centre of this series of releases lies Suryummy with a geometric design, motioning the viewer towards the high fidelity sonic treasure it holds. Suryummy is the musical / visual project of Emmett Feldman, and the Bay-area producer makes his debut on Constellation Tatsu with Prismatic Escalator. The 12-track offering is a match made in heaven for tape, as a superficial innocence hides a developed maturity behind nineties-influenced synthesisers and trance-inducing melodies. The execution is playful, indulging a simple musical appeal, but remains composed. A collage of references, from 8-bit gaming consoles to sci-fi b-movie synths, comes together on Prismatic Escalator to create dense layers of serious cinematic textures made up of idiosyncratic elements.
He takes these elements and processes them into everything from ambience to beat tracks. Talk About for instance is comfortable in both dimensions, something analogous to Aphex twin’s Ambient works, but the sound design, which includes a synthesised pan-flute, is far less serious. It recalls the nineties infomercials of a youth spent waiting for the cartoons to arrive after grandma’s soap opera hour. Everything is steeped in a concerted effort to build a magnificent show reel, from the appeal of a child’s perspective and Surryummy pulls it off eloquently. Cherry Berry Fairy’s gremlin lullaby; the educational film samples; and the oft-noted murmur of a child’s voice, attests this is not an accidental occurrence either, and there seems to be a calculated endeavour from Feldman to speak to some inner child through the language of sophisticated music. For the most part the music is delivered in sublime ambient tracks that feature some evocative synth progressions, but it’s when Suryummy ventures in to the world of the beat-tape, that he manages to hook something up that’s completely unique and characterises a distinct sound in his production.
The element of movement he forges in percussion, does well to entertain the nineties-inspired sound palette, and transposes it into present. Slinky bass-lines and uplifting melodies dominate the amazingly titled, Schoolyard Galaxy Cake, to come together in a chip-tune disco track who’s naive superficial appeal is only secondary to its mature execution. Tracks like this and Laser Ballistics can evidently draw some comparison to an artist like Heatsick where their lo-fi similarities cross over, but whereas the latter manages to subvert the simplicity of the methods he employs, Suryummy absolutely thrives in them, establishing an oblique web of textures from a simplistic collection of tonal motifs that are never too obscure and indulges both the adventurous- and passive listener.
Suryummy’s work has a perfunctory charm, made up from some deeper invested experience. The artist doesn’t really give us a clue as to what lies behind the amiable melodies and efficient beats, but they work well to drag you into the music, if the appealing aesthetic of the cover might have failed at its job. If any book should ever be judged by is cover, Prismatic Escalator could and should. It is music made for tape, a buoyant collection of songs that mask a severe professionalism, with one element only working to bolster the other’s appeal.