Henrik The Artist - Friendship
(2016 Activia Benz)
Never before has electronic music curled up so cozily, so confidently in the silicone depths of Uncanny Valley - Henrik The Artist's debut EP is a maximalist comprisal of long-discarded pop tropes, as hospitable to its listener as an old friend but revealed to be eerily artificial under closer scrutiny, covered in pore-less, rubbery skin. Henrik's the convincingly-built android in your future grandkid's 4th grade class, inviting the gang over for pizza bagels and video games in attempt to better assimilate into human culture.
The six tracks on Friendship are so, sleek, flawlessly produced and mind-bendingly catchy that it's hard not to feel a sense of traitorous guilt in enjoying them - human art is meant to conceal beauty in its flaws, knitting allure into tape hiss or cramming force into a distorted bassline. Henrik's music is scrubbed free of such blemishes - the only external flaw we can latch onto for reference is, ironically, Friendship's eerily transhuman perfection. Malleable limbs of late 80s smooth jazz melody (à la The Rippingtons) dodge an industrial lattice of bubblegum percussion on rollercoaster buildups to gummy, spring-loaded drops that somehow drip with aggression without employing a single fragment of noise or friction - break down early 00s Eurodance to its most basic components, dye it with the cloyingly commercial pallet of festival EDM, coat it in a Pet Shop Boys laquer and you've re-created Henrik's sense of pop ethos. Maybe sprinkle some Aphex Twin mystique on top for increased accuracy.
Revelling in exaggeration, Friendship is a bold work of sincerity: pretension-free art music that prides itself in accessibility. It's the most fun release of the year thus far, and likely 2016's most unappreciatedly surreal works. Relinquish your human sensibilities and enter the euphoric void.