REVIEW: Thriftwicker Audio Society – VOLUME IV – HOW TO LIVE A ZESTY LIFE (2021)

Like Kraftwerk at a lower bit-rate, this crunchy lil’ synth piece was self-released by Thriftwicker Audio Society in 2021. How To Live A Zesty Life (like a lot of art-brutish music) doesn’t attract the listener with any particular song as well as it functions as a background mood piece to play [insert activity] to.

For me, this might be playing a video game I’ve played a million times before. For others this could be anything. Too distracting to be ‘ambience’, too aloof to be engaging.

Thriftwicker Audio Society’s own take on plunderphonic’ absurdist humor is textbook, but not ineffective (track Thinker’s Milk and TURBOPUKE definitely got a chuckle out of me on the first two listens). Absurdist lyrics- phrases such as ‘drink your oatmeal and often’- are looped and manipulated over cellphone-sounding rhythms. How To Live A Zesty Life is fun and light on cynicism, which helps it stand out from more dense or pretentious punderphonic works emulating the genre’s classics.

These songs revel in a holdover of what we expect ‘digital’ to sound like- a holdover of oversimplified synth lines and looped drum machine rhythms that could easily be a false memory of the music on Bill Nye the Science Guy. More Chick Vekters than Macintosh Plus- it’s an interesting take on the 80s/90s nostalgia that has otherwise been played to death (and now feels insincere) within vaporwave.

If they wanted to, I have a feeling Thiftwicker Audio Society could handle an album of more typically written of songs while remaining true to their sonic palette, and create a very memorable album in the process.

For fans of: Men’s Recovery Project, John Oswald, Strawberry Blonde

Like Thriftwicker Audio Society? Give these a listen: Acetantina, Nostalgianoid, Will Powers

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