I was forged by many things as a malleable, impressionable teenager. One of the strongest of forces, a product of a very specific moment in time, was an ultra-geeky cauldron built from the focal point where anime, video games, early-2000's electronic music, and an older pre-social media incarnation of the internet all intersected. There’s a song, put out recently, that manages to encapsulate much of what it felt like to be within that time and place.
Virtual Self EP
Virtual Self (Porter Robinson)
The number of influences simultaneously working in concert was staggering. Dance Dance Revolution. beatmania IIDX. A hodgepodge of anime spanning from Evangelion to Gantz to Cowboy Bebop to Mezzo (not the pornographic one, though). Stepmania. The original incarnation of bemanistyle.com as a resource where users could upload simfiles playable in Stempania, with PARANOiA edits, beatmania-exclusive tracks, anime themes and impossibly difficult step chart difficulties galore. Ian van Dahl’s “Castles In The Sky”, Darude’s “Sandstorm”, and a whole bunch of very particularly anime-flavored trance and other electronic music. DJ Dan’s Accelerate, Dieselboy’s The Dungeonmaster’s Guide, DJ Shadow. Everything constantly cycling through my mind--early-2000's informational and aesthetic overload—amplified by the constant temptation to want to turn everything into simfiles that I could then play in Stepmania.
Consider it wholly fitting and the highest of compliments, then, that “Ghost Voices”, a song made under a pseudonym for electronic music Porter Robinson—perhaps most known for gifting “Shelter” to the world along with fellow producer Madeon—is the type of shit that young me would have totally turned into a simfile. It’s got the kind of strong but chilled-out house music foundation ready made for nostalgic sonics, similar in approach to Dusky’s also great “Yoohoo”, but pushes beyond the 80's/90's vibes to a trance-house hybrid of turn-of-the-millennium touchstones.
Ultra-synthetic wordless voices, old-school snare rolls and crash cymbals, multiple flavors of vintage trance synths with an especially blatant lift from “Castles In The Sky”--all of these elements satisfyingly bump up against the house backbone, lending sparkling artificial lushness to the beat and bassline, while also themselves benefiting from a rhythmic playfulness that usually belies most trance music. The female vocal samples then ensure, once and for all, that everything harmoniously comes together into a complete composition. Given all of this, along with the pleasing vision of a bygone era of internet-centric melting pot geekdom, this is one of my favorite electronic tracks in recent memory.