Friday 17 February 2023

Digital Ephemera

Having gone through the archives of this blog, I've been no stranger to dead links, deleted SoundClouds and artists that seem to have just disappeared - that's just the way things go in this age really, some things are lucky to be archived but there's bound to be tons of stuff that's pretty much lost forever. That's why I'm always vocally in support of artists and labels doing their best to make sure their work is as available as it can be. Today we're looking back at Ford & Lopatin (formerly known as Games) and the curious case of their SoundCloud.

I was (and am, I suppose) a big fan of all things that Ford & Lopatin put out, from their spiritual successor to the pioneering vaporwave Eccojams tape with the Heaven Can Wait mixtapes, to the love letter to the 80's that was their album Channel Pressure, there's not a dud release to be had.

They were pretty popular at the time too, the That We Can Play EP made waves at the time, which makes their eventual drop off all the more unusual - they had a mad flurry of releases in 2011 under the new 'Ford & Lopatin' name and then... nothing.

There's something a little sad about seeing the last upload date reading '11 years ago' (but at least they *are* available I suppose). It's a bit like walking through a dead mall - fitting, given the vaporwave underpinnings of the duo. And speaking of 'Vapor', as in something that's announced but is never actually released, their final upload is a tune that I'm pretty sure doesn't appear anywhere else in their discography. Which is a shame because it's a lovely addition - a crash course in Games/Ford & Lopatin's style with some divine sample work.

I thought while I was there I'd talk about some of their other work - MIDI Drift is one of those tracks that comes up once in a blue moon and just blindsides me. The explosion of sound that signals the beginning is just lovely - some synth power chords and that ripped from the 80's bassline set you up for the experience ahead. It may sound a little cliché now, but at the time these two were at the cutting edge of that sound. To quote a release page for the EP: "That We Can Play is a six track EP to soundtrack a midnight ride in the Delorean, stereo aflame, racing down moonlit avenues; all strobing synth-bass jams, gated drum pads and starkissed, monophonic melodies."

Playing us out is Strawberry Skies, one of my all time favourites since its release, a standout on the tracklist as it's the only one with vocal accompaniment. Laurel Halo's voice does wonders for the atmosphere here, between the lyrical content and her delivery, she really completes that hazy, dreamy feel - especially on that distant sounding intro, which you could be forgiven for thinking is a sample from a movie. I imagine it also lets the production side flex a little bit more as well, between this and Kavinsky's Nightcall released the same year, I was all ready for a full on retro synthpop revival at the time.

It's still a fantastic EP and definitely worth going back to, or checking out in full if it passed you by the first time. The label the early Games releases were on - Hippos In Tanks - is sadly defunct, but their backc atalogue is readily available digitally from what I could tell. I would recommend Bleep personally, but other distributors are available. As much as I'd love to hear a new Ford & Lopatin record, I think the two stopped at the right time, just before the synthwave and general 'chillwave' overexposure explosion. For what it's worth, I love a lot of what Lopatin has been putting out under his main Oneohtrix Point Never alias, and Joel Ford has plenty of synthpop stuff to check out with Young Ejecta. So in a way, the two of them never really left my collection.

And that'll about do it for this post, got a little bit more poetic in parts there, but I have been meaning to stretch my legs into that territory again. Hope you've found something to enjoy here, I'll be back soon enough with more, but until then - as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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