Review: The Meme Friends Anthology Part 2

The Meme Friends Anthology: Part 2
(4chan 2014)

Releasing 7 albums of consistent quality would be an extremely impressive feat for any artist or entity, yet the Meme Friends, a collective of electronic producers who frequent 4chan's Music discussion board, /mu/, make it look easy. As I explained in my previous report on the project's progress, The Meme Friends have an unusually systematic music creation process, essentially constructing a brand new album on a virtual assembly line over the course of a few hours each Saturday evening. The track names are chosen by lottery based on the number that appears over posts on the weekly thread, similar to the manner in which one can win concert tickets by being the 9th caller on on a radio show. The right to create one of the ten songs slated to appear on the album is claimed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and album titles and covers are voted on by contributors. Each new Meme Friends venture delves into a different genre, but as a whole, the project's discography maintains a cohesive aesthetic: avant-electronica that wouldn't feel too out of place in an Adult Swim commercial bumper, but could also feel just as at home on a spraypainted cassette tape, edition of 15.

Following the original trilogy of Meme Friends endeavors is their most adventurous effort to date, 中国の象形文字とくだらない90の広告 (Chinese Hieroglyphics and Shitty 90's Advertisements). An analysis of the vaporwave genre and the many different forms it can assume, it's a difficult piece of music that must be appreciated on the textural level; you can't just skim the melodic surface and expect to be impressed. It hangs like fog on an early morning drive to work, fatigue blurring the stretch of road in front of you, the "oldies" station reduced to noise in the background. "Crumb Dragon" does a great job of setting the tone. It opens with reverby, robotic voices which fade into a soupy blend of synths and sludgy percussion. Gradually, this sonic slurry is sucked into a whirlpool, speeding up until it reaches a point of singularity, eventually bursting into spacey nothingness, yet again rebuilding itself again, in the form of a distant guitar riff, complimented by chiming harmonics. It feels like a rebirth of the Meme Friends' universe, their signature style becoming more evident in their product. The original trilogy at times felt a bit overly loose, but  中国の象形文字とくだらない90の広告 is most definitely a tight effort, sour slowed down samples accenting each track. "Go Ahead" Parts 1 and 2 flow together particularly nicely, a chopped-and-screwed Washed Out track melting into an overdriven piece of swirling ambience. Though many Meme Friends fans including myself were rather disappointed by this album on the first listen, I've come to appreciate it over the past few weeks, embracing its quirks. 

Who Killed Archie Andrews? is the last Meme Friends album to reference the iconic comic book character in the wake of his tragic, fictional demise. The melodrama of 80s synth pop is employed to narrate the gloominess of Archie's final hours in the hospital, his life flashing before his eyes. The curtains open as ambient pads loom in the background as medical staff and witnesses to Archie's assassination speak about the room as our hero rests on the bed, barely conscious. It's hypnotic and spooky, transitioning well into its successor, "10 Below 90", made up of mournful synths which build up into a steadily cruising Kraftwerk-esque jam. My favorites from this album include "Running in the 80s", a funky number driven by its heavy bassline and "Fleeing the City" its most impressive cut, wielding knife-like synths like Com Truise.

Next up in the discography is somewhat of a novelty, but is nontheless rather enjoyable. Now That's What I Call GENERIC is a celebration of the cookie-cutter electronica that plagues youtube and soundcloud in the form of of soul-less FL Studios productions. "The Meme Friends F******* Suck" will be just about all you need to hear from this effort, a catchy club banger that samples the infamous "in me mum's car" vine. Though there are plenty of laughs to be had over the course of the album, it has the substance of a Tim and Eric episode. It's stupid fun, but a good time nonetheless. 

 Capping off the latest crop of Aeme Friends releases is Reason 333, perhaps the collective's magnum opus. Each producer seems to have felt most comfortable working under the album's ambient theme, as the effort flows beautifully, from the grimy, textural drone of "Es Mor Arete" to the progressive bombast of "No Flex Zone". It's as if 333 is one large track divided into 5 minute movements, exploring slippery chillwave timbres on "Green Back Money Making" while slipping into a new-agey slumber on "Bold And Brash". The album is cohesive on every level, in key, tone, delivery, tempo. It's a masterpiece of the Bandcamp age that will be difficult for this scrappy bunch of memers to top.

Give them a listen here: https://thememefriends.bandcamp.com/