Photo Source: Bandcamp
As beautiful and arresting ambient and low-fidelity music can be, when you listen to a lot of these genres, they can fall into a pit of same-ness. It’s no surprise that it often gets branded as the kind of music to study to rather than a genre that invites a deeper look. While I’ve been into ambient and electronic music for a long time, there is no album quite like i’m real, i’m here by Echochamber. Described as vaporwave, ambient, experimental, and dream punk, this album isn’t just background music. It uses atmosphere and sound design to its full extent to create a cyberpunk story that is bound to catch your attention.
i’m real i’m here as an album works to be act like a sci-fi dystopian story that tries to play with themes such as the internet and consciousness. Each track finds its own way to be distinct while still allowing itself to be tied together into some larger story. For instance, many of the tracks, such as “boundaries and limitations [sunday driver]” draws you in with an almost operatic electronic tone before delving into a Crystal Castles-like house beat that incorporates different smooth, synthetic rhythms. However, the album then comes in with a largely piano-based piece called “blindfoldz [& ticking clockz]” that contains some electronic beats but feels the most organic out of the other tracks. All of the music excels at creating a certain melancholic atmosphere that seems bigger than itself. When you listen to it, it’s like you’re being transported into a place largely unfamiliar yet inviting.
Echochamber’s album seems to be working on a themed thread of consciousness. Interlaced gingerly throughout the album are line samples from the cult classic Japanese animated tv series Serial Experiments Lain, a 1998 show that deals with some of the anxieties regarding involved with the blurring lines of the real and virtual world (where a lot of the fears we have today are mirrored in a show from over 20 years ago). The nods to the show are present, but you don’t have to know everything about the show to enjoy the music, and only 3 out of the 16 tracks feature samples from the show. The lyrics are in Japanese, but you can find the translations to them on the album website.
All in all, I heartily recommend i’m real, i’m here to anyone interested in ambient and electronic music. The music is utterly arresting and really shows what ambient and vaporwave music can be. If you already listen to these kinds of beats (though only as something to put in the background) or are looking to get into ambient music, definitely give this album a try. If you’re more of an up-tempo, faster-beat music fan, I would recommend giving this album a skip. As much as I think that this atmospheric tour through dystopian cyberspace is pretty, it definitely will try other listeners’ patiences. You can find the album on bandcamp, and it’s only three dollars to buy it. Also, if you liked it as much as I did and want to get it in physical form, you can contribute to the label’s vinyl kickstarter campaign on qrates, where you can get a copy yourself once it hits a certain amount of copies by a certain date. If you aim to go that route though, definitely act fast, as the campaign ends this week. Overall, i’m real, i’m here was an absolutely lucky find, and you should definitely try it out to see if it’s your cup of tea.
You can get the digital album i'm real i'm here on bandcamp here.
You can support the vinyl release on qrates here.
Below is a sort of promotional video for i'm real, i'm here. It isn't a music video of a particular song, but more of a medley set to Serial Experiments Lain. It will give a taste of the feel the album is going for.