To those of the opinion that chillwave has already become a menace unto itself due to its recent over-saturation, it might be worth taking half an hour out of your life to listen to RxGibbs’ Futures EP before writing off the movement entirely, as it reaffirms everything that was originally interesting about the subsidiary genre. Some chillwave acts have chosen to branch out into new sonic territory – Toro Y Moi, for example – while others have stagnated in making the same sort of nostalgic haze. RxGibbs does things a little differently by making an EP that flows seamlessly between tracks, capturing an array of sounds that all have a similar chilled-out ethos about them. The result is a collection of enjoyable sonic instrumentals, some peppered lovingly with chopped-up minor vocals, and all of which capture a beautiful mood of serenity.
Pretty synthesisers make up the majority of the sounds on display here, but RxGibbs uses some lovely bass-heavy percussion throughout to add rhythm to these electronic landscapes. In tracks such as “Lumiere” these beats really allow the track to swell into a glowing mass that rises with increasing complexity, forming a perfect marriage with the ethereal noise around them. “Split Infinity” places a greater focus on drum-machine snares and incoherent, chanting vocals that breathe comfortingly through the speakers. These are sounds that you’ve heard before in chillwave, but which are used effectively in order to make a fairly unique musical statement.
“Futures,” is a good indicator of this originality as the title track of the EP: it blends together typically sampled vocals and thick beats, but messes with audio levels throughout to set a listener’s heart racing; one moment the sound may be in the left speaker, and mere seconds later it may have bounced to the right. It’s a formidable technique, reminding one of the interesting sounds that chillwave can still create.
Of course, the Futures EP isn’t going to be for everyone; there are surprisingly few vocal samples in this particular brand of chillwave, resulting in an EP that floats nimbly into your head, but doesn’t make a particularly lasting impression. It’s difficult to distinguish between tracks even on repeated listens; on the one hand, this proves that the listen is a cohesive one that certainly captures a pleasant mood, but on the other it does suggest that there may be limitations to RxGibbs’ style. An EP of this stuff is easily absorbed, but it’s not difficult to imagine that an album-length record might become tedious. First impressions based on this EP are good, but it remains to be seen if the subsequent album will be able to stretch this sound out without losing its way.
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