Get Refreshed: Deep House, Alt-Pop, and Rhythm Games: All At Their Best

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Bernard Vernon

Full Playlist (2021)

Quannnic: “today is different”

Quannnic begins their latest single with a drawn-out, slow-buring acoustic intro. Their soft vocals shimmer over the chugging guitars like fog over an empty highway before the a wave of pounding percussion and biting distortion clears that fog right away in a moment’s notice. It’s easily one of digicore’s single most gorgeous moments of the year, and it reiterates a point I’ve been making about the scene for a great while. 

And that point goes as follows: the teens that make up this scene are not just “talented musicians” — they’re students of the game… the pop game, in particular. Quannnic’s masterful application of a lengthy suspense and release – a tried and true facet of sentimentally centered alt-pop – is just one example of this fact out of a cast of millions, but I’d be remiss to say that this isn’t as blatant as it gets.

The rest of the track to follow is also remarkable; I shouldn’t forget to mention that. Quannnic spends the next 3 minutes taking the listener on an emotional ride that, believe it or not, eventually leads to an even more impactful build-up and further explosion — this time occurring at the track’s sublime apex. The total weight that this offering has in store just oozes pure pop acumen. I can only think of a few artists, digicore or otherwise, who have as much of that right now as Quannnic does.

dazegxd + Dirty Bird + disctr4k: “drive me crazy”

Don’t you just love those songs where every single moment makes sense? I’m talking about tracks that apply equal value to its most drawn-out and lengthy aspects all the way down to its most minuscule embellishments; when its signature refrain has just as much impactful weight as a 3-second riff within the same space. These types of songs are rare for any genre and/or scene alike, but even more so for new-age electronic styles given their relatively streamlined manners of creation. 

If tracks like these are expected to be rare for a genre like deep house, for example, who better to subvert these preconceptions than perhaps its most ready and willing ambassador of the future in dazegxd. The new-age purveyor recently recruited his trusted Eldia tag-team partner Dirty Bird along with disctr4k – the 14-year-old prodigy who calls this scene home as well – to come through with a single that falls under those aforementioned pretenses in supreme fashion. 

Building off the familiar refrain to New Edition’s mid-90s classic “Hit Me Off,” these three scratch every single itch a deep house cut could ever need. Not one moment inside this track spends even a second above water; the trio absolutely submerges the listener with soaked vocal edits, slippery synth passages, and timely splashes of piano riffs and other various instrumental improvisations. The deeper and deeper this experience gets as it proceeds, it adds more and more of those slight embellishments that account for its transcendence from “standard” to “nuanced” as far as deep house as a genre is concerned. It proves how adept these three are in this environment, while also just resulting in a class-A example for how this genre can reach its loftiest heights with some keen attention to detail and overall understanding of the craft. 

SEBii and osu! Are A Match Made In Rhythm Heaven

When I tell my friends I suck at osu! but I’m really good at Guitar Hero, I get a lot of mixed responses. I can’t help that I’m good at the rhythm game I grew up with, but just awful at the one with the most relevance today. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I adore osu! as a game, for one, and I even more so admire its status and further role in introducing so many people to the wonderfully endless world of contemporary electronic music and the like. It houses a comprehensive view of electronic music throughout the new millennium, and that’s a feat I couldn’t even tell you how impressed I am with — given the sheer scope of this style of music from a spectacle. 

And the developers aren’t just glorious historians, either; they’re as hip as can be to what’s popping off in today’s landscape, even beyond the world of electronic music alone. If you didn’t know that before, then the announcement of SEBii as the game’s newest featured artist should make that crystal clear. 

SEBii’s music – what with its typically rambunctious, light-speed takes on hip-hop and pop alike – is a perfect fit for the game by all means. Just a simple inclusion of his work would’ve done the trick here, but the developers truly went the extra mile in outright co-signing the high-pitched MC themselves. I honestly think this will lead to even more partnerships akin to something like this in the future, and we should all be thankful that there’s potential for the convergence of video games and online music scenes to grow even brighter than it is at this moment in time.

User 2222: 2222

If there’s anything this column reveals about me, it’s that I’m one of the most impressionable people you’ll probably ever meet. I’d like to think that’s the case more so due to my lifelong passion for finding and adoring creative things on the Internet… not because I’m in any way naive about the music I discover and listen to. But if any collective were to prove the latter as being true, I think Curiosity Shop would be the one to do so. 

That’s because with each project they put out – either on their main SoundCloud page or via their wide array of remarkable production acts on a solo basis – they come through with sights and sounds of which I never thought could exist until they… create these things themselves, I suppose. And like clockwork, their latest full-length feature has repeated this notion yet again.

User 2222’s 2222 has accomplished this feat by simply being one of the most wide-ranging and entirely involved electronic albums I’ve heard this year. It’s impossible to tag this release with any individual genre solely due to its relentless cycle through an innumerable amount of styles that don’t just change from song to song, but within a few individual tracks as well. While this approach is technically nothing new for new-age electronic acts, it has yet to be done in such a seamlessly appealing manner as what we have here. That’s what impresses me the most, and it’s no wonder that it would come from an artist like this in a collective like Curiosity Shop.

wubz: “death”

The recent output of digicore’s resident alt-rock mastermind wubz has essentially been cut from a similar cloth; each track has its subdued, soft beginnings, then they burst into an audio whirlwind of clipping distortion and other mind rattling effects, all the while featuring the angst-ridden, low-toned vocals of wubz themself. It’s an atypical formula, and one that pairs graciously with wubz’s manically homicidal lyricism and overall approach to songwriting — literally and figuratively alike. 

Their latest single “death” sees this formula reaching its present apex; each of these aforementioned facets that wubz can effectively call their own are at their highest peaks here. Its songwriting – apropos in its “deathly” nature – is supremely compact and concise, relishing in its simplicity and thriving beyond comprehension because of it. The instrumental, on the other hand, finds itself on the other side of the tracks — it thrives solely off of its overwhelmingly involved and multi-faceted tendencies, be it that signature distortion throughout, catchy riffs infused within, and just about everything else that wubz packs within it. 

It’s become the popular consensus to realize that wubz has topped themselves with each and every new track, but this new single is more than just “their new best song.” Rather, it’s a fully realized showcase of everything that defines this future-defining talent, and one that sets the bar for how outstanding that future is going to look as they sit comfortably at its forefront.


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