When you get into the nitty gritty of forging your own music taste, the scariest part might be finding new music.
In these dark times, most of us turn to the dreaded algorithm to hold our hands, whether it be the Youtube sidebar or Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlists.
However, one thing I’ve found to be effective is finding a label to follow. Pick an artist you like, see who publishes their stuff, and follow the trail to a massive group of similar sounds that will enrich your coming days with dope music. What better time than in quarantine to start expanding your listening horizons? When I really got into this exercise, one of the first labels I happened to stumble upon was Lovecrypt. Releasing on Bandcamp only, with somehow less attention and buzz than the 168th Viper album F*ck Tha World It Ain’t Real I Bend Tha Spoon Wit My Mind 2, label head Akira and his artists have been curating an incredibly interesting, original sound, with a fascinating story behind them.
Scouring the Stacks
The easiest place to start with Lovecrypt is their library. Chock full of dark, gritty, bleak, and hopeless sounds, these albums are the perfect accompaniment for a night of lying still and staring at the ceiling. For the listener dipping their toe into the world of dark ambient and harsh noise, the best artist to begin your Lovecrypt journey with is probably Storm King, whose 2 releases on the label have been very straightforward, quality retro synthwave. I highly recommend his first project, “Grim Omen”.
For all you Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada fans out there, Lovecrypt has a dearth of artists available to pick from. “EP” by omega super 欧米茄超级, “childhood’s end” by subboreal, “RSI, autism and deep depression are the only things that unite us” by Damba, and “CLWNWRLD PRESENTS: THE RINGLEADER’S SYMPHONY” by New Shoppe are all ridiculously strong dark ambient and drone projects, and truly worth a listen. “Atria” and “UNTERCHTHONIA” by Cor Serpentis can fit into this group too, but also dive pretty heavily into dubstep sounds, an interesting venture in this day and age.
For some very brutal, grating harsh noise, I’d check out all of Canned Meat’s projects—their first, “Soundtrack for Over-the-Counter Pharmaceuticals” being my personal favorite. And to round it all out, the last release from one of Lovecrypt’s co-founders, Nishiki Prestige, “XOXO” is an excellent cyberpunk and glitchy IDM album. When I got the opportunity to talk with Akira, he said “Warlike” by I Sekuin, a bass heavy industrial and electronic hip-hop album, was the project he had been listening to the most lately.
Akira’s Bold Mission
Though Nishiki Prestige was a co-founder of the label, the real driving force behind it since he left the internet and music behind has been his partner, Akira. Shrouded in mystery, Akira has been running the Lovecrypt label almost completely anonymously as a passion project for the past 3 years. Rather than running the label to seek profits, Akira has made his main purpose fostering a community of underground, original, and boundary-pushing artists. Keeping his day job the whole time, he pays all his artists an advance according to the time spent working on their projects directly out of his own pocket. Should there come a time when album sales generate more revenue than that initial advance payment, he also sends the artists 100% of profits from then on out, though this has yet to happen. Where Lovecrypt reaches its most fascinating peak is probably through the esoteric philosophy making the backbone of the project.
Upon first starting the project, Akira and Nishiki had a vague goal in mind. They were looking for like minded artists to produce music that represented the sonic aesthetic of accelerationism. “Woah woah woah,” you might be thinking. “What the hell is accelerationism?” You’d be pretty justified in that thought. Accelerationism is quite a new, obscure philosophy or thought paradigm, and it has yet to spread too far from its relatively small online community of origin.
At its most basic, accelerationism is the idea that some aspect of society should have its development greatly encouraged and complexified to a breaking point, all with the desire of advancing the human condition along with it. (For more on accelerationism, check out Mark Fisher’s book Capitalist Realism). I got the opportunity to talk to Akira about Lovecrypt’s development, and he gave me some great insight into the philosophy he and his artists shared.
At the beginning of the project, all parties involved were, to some degree, technological accelerationists. This meant that they were all operating under the idea that pushing forward the progress of technology would lead to an inevitable singularity point, in which the human condition would be furthered pretty massively. Attempting to define this idea with an aesthetic, they turned to dark cyberpunk visions, with fast paced beats that jumped all over the place and erratic multilayered post processing. What emerged was a cacophony of dark ambient, dubstep, harsh noise, cyberpunk IDM, synthwave, and glitch music. As the project progressed though, everyone began to realize that their unifying ideal wasn’t very unified.
The First Split
Being a pretty new philosophical exploration, accelerationism is very loosely defined. This started to be an issue for Akira and Lovecrypt when discussions about what exactly accelerationism meant and how to define it with a sound became messy. How can you have a unified image when the people who subscribe to the concepts forming it don’t even really know what it means, let alone those observing from the outside? The result of this was a period of time in which Lovecrypt lost focus. Releases slowed down, and exploration of the underlying ideas got really murky. Then, Akira experienced something of a miracle.
Renewed Focus Through a Higher Power
These days, Lovecrypt has become stronger and more together than it ever had been. Discussions on the ideology they all share have been much more productive, the message behind the music they produce has been way more focused, and, according to Akira, they feel much closer to a true community of artists than the random amalgamation of online posters they had been before. What it took to inspire this newfound drive, passion, and unity was for Akira to find God.
Akira claims to have had a sudden realization about the nature of God and the universe, returning him to the faith he had grown up with. The group has reunified under the banner of right accelerationism, with its goals rooted in Catholic and general Christian theology. Akira says that they’ve re-centered around understanding the ordering of human civilization in such a way that it furthers human flourishing.
This new element of working towards a goal beyond themselves seems to have truly reinvigorated Lovecrypt, and they’ve been regularly releasing some pretty diverse, interesting music over the last year or so. Their sound, though still bleak, now has a glimmer of hope and brightness shining through. The best way to define the label now, says Akira, is that they’re “joined with an understanding of the primacy of God and the human element in all things”.
Today it feels like the world is collapsing around us now more than ever. For a lot of people out there, this pandemic is tantamount to an apocalyptic event. With all of us stuck inside, grasping in the darkness for some long-lost sense of both excitement and stability, now is the perfect time to engage in Lovecrypt’s eccentric and esoteric vision. I’ve been listening to their catalog a lot more myself, and it’s been a surprisingly useful tool to help me first get a grasp on all my emotions and the reality of the situation going down and then locate some far-off glimmer of hope for things to get better. With the newfound time I’m sure most of you have, use this opportunity to take a chance on some pretty “out there” stuff you likely wouldn’t have tried to engage with before.
If you’re interested in continuing to learn about Akira and Lovecrypt’s niche within a niche, you can follow him on Twitter @lovecryption, listen to their music on Bandcamp, or read insurrealist’s blog, the other individual Akira says is leading the development of their philosophy.
Colin Brunsen is a Cal Poly History Junior and KCPR staff member. He wrote the article. Mia Giacinto is a Cal Poly History Freshman and a KCPR staff member. She created the illustration.