Signal Flow by A.L.I.S.O.N (Review)

A dreamy, contemplative release existing at the liminal space between synthwave and vaporwave.
Signal Flow - A.L.I.S.O.N

Both synthwave and vaporwave have a rather dystopic bent to them. The former draws inspiration from gritty cyberpunk futures à la Blade Runner and Neuromancer while the latter envisions abandoned shopping malls haunted by the ghosts of consumerism past. But even though Signal Flow is tagged with both genres on Bandcamp, there’s nothing dystopic about A.L.I.S.O.N’s most recent EP.

A better indicator of the EP’s sound would be its cover art, which depicts an android staring off into the stars while chilling out on the hull of its spaceship. Much like the android’s exterior, A.L.I.S.O.N’s electronic music is sleek as chrome, from the polished synth tones and echoing arpeggios to the crisp, shuffling beats that emerge on a song like “Subtract.” Also — and this may seem like an odd thing to notice — the EP is quite efficient; only one song crosses the five-minute mark, meaning that the songs never wear out their welcome, but always remain short and sweet.

And like the android’s contemplative posture, there’s a dreaminess to Signal Flow that proves quite beguiling. Occasionally reminiscent of Steve Hauschildt’s work (especially 2016’s Strands, see opening track “Input”), and at other times conjuring up a more meditative — and decidedly less kitschy — variant of future funk, the French producer’s vibe is just the sort of thing to leave you dreaming up at the stars. Even if you’re not a spaceship-owning android yourself.

A.L.I.S.O.N has been quite prolific, with nine releases uploaded to their Bandcamp page since January 2018. And they’re all of a piece with Signal Flow, so if you dig these five tracks, there’s plenty more where they came from. (I’m particularly partial to 2018’s Polymoon, myself.)

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