I was sent a submission by a label of their latest releases, and it was a submission that actually excited me. It isn’t often I get to deal with a label directly and to see that type of attention to whom they submit music as well as their artists is a rare art form these days. The first release that grabbed my attention is an artist named Golden Champagne Flavored Sweatshirt, because one way to get my attention is to have a bizarre flare. If the pictures alone don’t convey it, her description supplements it.
According to the media packet Golden Champagne Flavored Sweatshirt is described as a Black femme producer, curator, as well as artist in her own right. The combination of the three seems to greatly influence her work and allow her the inspiration and creativity to explore her music in a way that allows all aspects some room to be a part of the work. Her latest work is described as a play on different modalities such as aggression and comfort, peace and overwhelm, and beauty with terror. All of these modalities converge to as a sonic expression meant to interact and interplay of how this affects the music and the listener.
I find in many ways the album delivers on its promises of interplay with various dualities. As described the album grows ominous with the swells and tones in “Whicket” when clips of religious right rantings appear and plays on those dualities where aggression of the dark synth tones of the song interplay with how many seek religion for comfort and create tension both in song and in metaphor. The aggressive element appears in the forefront with “Horsemouth” with increasing frequencies of beats and punching tones match the hard to interpret recordings and only adds to the increasing tension constant in the song.
While I doubt the album was meant to be a conceptual album in this respect I noticed the theme of growth and building also joined the interplay of the GCFS’ work. This becomes apparent in songs like “Sea Creatures” and “Pyroclasmic Flows” where the song introduces certain sounds but reintroduces them once other patterns are established and form a theme and variation that leaves the listener calculating in an attempt to figure out the song’s next twist. Whether or not it was intended the album also plays on growth and building not only within songs like “3.26” and “Sea Creatures” but also across the album as a whole. As the album progresses songs increase in their complexity and seem to build off of the previous track of various themes and elements, which I noticed with “3.26”, “Horsemouth”, and “Whicket”. There seems to be a new set like this established with “Sea Creatures”, “Pyroclasmic Flows”. In the second half I noticed also another expression of that duality in the song titles, though I question if this was also coincidental. It will challenge the listener and send them to levels of unease and discomfort, as I experienced with “Animals Calling Animals”. I think it is the first time in a long time a song became difficult for me to review because of the intensity on a personal level and speaks profoundly of the skill of the artist.
I think the only issue I have with this album is, despite the various themes and building at play it still feels like something is missing. All the attention to detail in songs like “Horsemouth” and “Human-Animal Chimera” it still feels hollow and as if I am to insert something. Perhaps this is an artistic choice and I’m not the right audience to receive it. I suspect, though, if these songs were remixed with their counterparts (as I suspect “Human-Animal Chimera” and “Animals Calling Animals” are a duality) these feelings of something missing would fall into place.
I think I’m being picky, though. It is an interesting album that explores sounds and challenges the idea of concept albums in a way that forces a listener to examine each song as a piece and internalize how it affects them. This is what is, on some level, the intent of every creator no matter what the discipline may be. Quite frankly, GCFS manages this quite well in many and unexpected ways.
Golden Champagne Flavored Sweatshirt’s EXPECTANT is available for preorder on Ratskin Record’s bandcamp and will be available November 20th. You can also find her on the Ratskin Records website, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and radio show.