First Listen: Giraffage "Needs"

Where does a mixtape end and an album begin? The lines are blurred, and they are becoming even blurrier these days. The mixtape has established its own tradition, ususally being for free, mostly featuring tracks by other artists mixed with some original material and is published by a blog or online music magazine. An album on the other hand is almost exclusively original work, is published by a label and sold (or pirated).

Giraffage, the artist born as Charlie Yin 23 years ago and collaborator of trip hop wunderkind XXYYXX, has released something the other day which he calls an album, but his label Alpha Pup declares a mixtape. It is a strange mixture of both, and maybe the way to go in the future. For one thing, it is for free, so no wonder it isn’t an album from the label’s perspective. But it contains mostly original work – although that work is “sample-based pop”. And it is published on soundcloud below, with a free download link and streamed on Youtube. Anyway, I decided to go with the artist and call it an album. You could also just call it “Needs”, because that’s its name.

“Needs” is an intriguing amalgam of different styles, ranging from trip hop to lo-fi synth pop, R&B, vaporwave and some trap. There even is a brostep bass drop on the third track, oh my. Giraffage’s trademark sound of snares, reverb synth bleeps and smooth bass veils keeps it all together, so much so that I found myself missing some variety in the overall composition. But this record – or whatever you want to call it in the end – is an impressive accomplishment and shows his sonic vision as well as focussed mindset. Welcome to the future. It looks bright for Giraffage.

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