What if I told you there was an artist out there (specifically, out in Dallas) who blends lo-fi hip hop, classical music, the occult, and vaporwave? I think you’d, understandably, raise your eyebrow and say “sir, this is a Wendy’s” My embarrassing inability to stop recommending weird music to people aside, a project fitting just that description really exists and it’s called Black Taffy, a moniker of one Donovan Jones. The project has the aforementioned lo-fi hip hop at its core, but with some clever artwork, track names, and divergent influences, it also manages to conjure an aesthetic and sound far beyond “just” that genre. Head on down below to check out “Cardinal Advice”, the second from the project’s most recent release, Opal Wand!
When I first heard this track, it was the warbled effects on the clarinet (at least, I think that’s meant to be a clarinet?) that immediately arrested me. The warm static in the back on which the drums lie underpins the track, giving the strings, synths, and other samples a landscape on which they roam. And, while those drums beat on in the background, roam they do, exploring melodies you’d expect to find on a piece by Bach or Schubert rather than on a lo-fi hip hop album. That warbling effect on so many of the samples, alongside the sweeter, lost tone to many of the instrument, is what evokes that vaporwave feeling, a past/future lost to us and to time. Then, you add in the AD&D style cover art, the magical/fantastical/occult track names, the damn Bandcamp color scheme and everything collapses together into an extremely well thought out and put together release.
And, naturally, the fun doesn’t stop here. The album also contains more incredible compositions (like “Ocarina”, the track right after “Cardinal Advice”, and its agile harp/guitar percussive melodies) and rich textures. Opal Wand is as intricate as lo-fi hip hop can be and that’s saying something in a sub-genre known for its plunderphonics and experimentation with the medium of music. So, hit play, find a cool spot to sit in, and let the world melt away around you, replaced with pastel scenes and fantastical realms, painted in music and style. By the by, this recommendation came to us directly from Bandcamp, so go subscribe to Bandcamp Daily once you return from your colorful journeys. You won’t regret it.