Wavehymnal EP by Makeup and Vanity Set (Review)

Another solid, engaging release by one of the best musicians working in electronic music today.
Wavehymnal - Makeup & Vanity Set

It’s been a little over a year since Makeup & Vanity Set released the synthwave epic that is Wilderness. Since then, Matthew Pusti has been busy composing music for the upcoming Brigador and Starr Mazer video games. Somehow, though, he’s found time to record and release Wavehymnal, a seven-song EP that bridges the gap between Wilderness and older Makeup & Vanity Set material like the “Praxis” single.

Aggressive and (dare I say) even dancefloor-friendly, Wavehymnal is more beat-driven than the cinematic atmospheres of Wilderness and 88:88 — though those atmospheres still wind their way through the EP. Opener “Stalker” is the best example of this. It begins with some of the funkiest music that Pusti has released to date: its beats and solid groove (is that some synthetic slap-bass I hear?) are bound to get your head a-bobbin’. Then, in the song’s final moments, a haunting (yet surprisingly catchy) synth melody winds its way through the song, covering the dancefloor with an icy chill.

“Death Laser” lives up to its name, maintaining a constant intensity with pulsing arpeggios and snappy rhythms. A brief respite occurs mid-way, which gives the song time to recharge and redouble its intensity. “Wavehymnal” is constructed of chrome-laced slivers of synth arpeggios begging to soundtrack some long-lost ’80s sci-fi action classic, while airier, vaguely oriental textures (think cybernetic shakuhachi) sound out during the song’s bridge. Both songs showcase Pusti’s ability to change up a song’s dynamics — going from ominous to atmospheric, from intense to chilled out — without sacrificing its integrity or mood.

Wavehymnal concludes with two remixes. The first, by Trey Frey and Dubmood, abstracts “Stalker” with ominous vocals and glassy melodies. The second, by Covox, reimagines “Who Does” (which itself hearkens back to 88:88’s “System Override”) with solemn, reverb-drenched piano notes. All in all, another solid, engaging release by one of the best musicians working in electronic music today.

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