Review: Chocofriendz - "hi ANGEL"

chocofriendz - hi ANGEL
(2015 Self-Released)

I've reviewed quite a decent portion of Chocofriendz's prolific output over the years, and for good reason: the warm, woolly textures that seep from his keyboard speakers blend impeccably with his skeletal compositions like a sweater over a friendly ghost. Acutely minimal and intense, his songcraft resides on the fine line between powerful emotion and lovably cornball sentimentality that transports me back to my early childhood, more specifically reminding me of the sort of books and VHS tapes that would have filled me with a strange mix of sadness and warmth at the time (Where the Red Fern Grows, this weird Christian educational videotape about talking donut puppet, the Sesame Street Christmas Special...). Imagine a less cynical/angsty take on Teen Suicide's "Haunt Me (3x)" and you'll get the picture - there's something scarily pure and honest about Choco's music that makes it difficult, yet rewarding, to confront.

His latest effort, hi ANGEL, is a musical take on the Magical Realist literary tradition, carefully cutting heroes and anthropomorphic creatures from the modern Western mythological canon - (children's literature, cartoons, video games) - and pasting them into an eerily barren simulacrum of suburbia. To the tune of glassy keyboard drones, Fritz the Cat, Maisy Mouse and characters from Sailor Moon materialize like cel-shaded phantoms, haunting the "empty swimming pools" and "abandoned golf carts" of Choco's hometown. Jean Baudrillard suggests we visit imaginary worlds like Disneyland to create a distinction between the imaginary and the real - to reassure ourselves that the world outside its borders is free of the childishness of our past selves. hi ANGEL acts as a reverse-Disneyland of sorts, a pair of magic goggles that let the juvenile flights of fancy jammed deep into one's conscious free from the junk drawers they were left in. If the puerile bedroom pop of Beat Happening and Daniel Johnston appeals to you, you'll adore this record.