ASCII Girls is an album completely directed by Yeongrak’s use of reverb. To build ground up starting with such density can be quite limiting, and it’s a decision that we’ve seen fall flat time and time again. That said, all the tracks on ASCII Girls are incredibly well tailored. This album simply wouldn’t work otherwise.
Released on illustrious vaporwave label Business Casual in 2014, Yeongrak’s association with vaporwave has more to do with what vaporwave took from earlier artists. Notably, one can see similarities between Yeongrak ASCII Girls and established WARP Records artists such as Autechre and Boards of Canada, although drenched in reverb. Ambient, glitch-hop, and beat maker culture are blended into something new; a record that accomplishes so much more than its ‘lo-fi beats and chill’ contemporaries. Listeners are presented with fully fleshed out tracks, and after a satisfying 18 minutes Yeongrak knows when to fold them.
Artistic choices have degrees of consequence. They change the state of the piece as we continue to sculpt the parts into a final whole. Delay and (especially in this case) reverb may be the best examples of obvious artistic consequences. Now, a note is a much different material to work with; its consequence being a long tail after each note. Things can quickly spiral into a muddy, cacophonous mess which can weaken the execution of the composition. So, all artistic choices within a work will typically yield to the choice with the greatest consequences.
While its weeaboo cover art is something I neither understand nor care for, Yeongrak’s ASCII Girls is an otherwise relaxing trip of self-transcendence in an age of internet.
For fans of: Boards of Canada, Bowery Electric, Alpha