Darkness is pierced by the day’s first light, the tail-end of a thunderstorm still audible as it retreats toward the sea. Sunrise over the water, presenting a refreshing and inspiring experience, hope rising as the light returns. The opportunities a day at the beach bring are many and varied, much like the people soon streaming onto the boardwalk. Young lovers walk, hand in hand, without seeming to have a real destination. Up ahead is the boardwalk arcade, filled with tall cabinets old and new, ready to relentlessly eat quarters if that’s how you like to spend your time.
These are the images the first few tracks of Gateway offered me as I let the music build a world for me. Soul▲Craft creates dense and beautiful vibes, whisking me away to a multitude of places like a friend showing me their favorite spots around the city. Enthusiastic at times, relaxed at others, these windows into new places and experiences seem to settle effortlessly in my mind. Each track feels distinct, but never out of place.
Including features from ᴘₒʟʏɢʟᵒᴛ, King Weapon, and m a g g i e . w a v, Gateway is 14 tracks of living Vaporsynth, and while there are tracks that lean more toward a sort of classic Late Night vapor feel, the second half of the album is a bit more Vaporsynth focused. The variety is well paced, with the tracks organized in a way that gives the album a nice flow.
The mixing makes use of a lot of spatial sound, giving each track a sense of depth and allowing you to feel more immersed as the sounds of the world swirl around your head. This sort of effect can be disorienting if used excessively, but the way Soul▲Craft wields it feels very natural and allows the tracks to feel very broad at times.
Gateway is a great album that plays well in the background while working on something else, as well as for active listening, and it’s because of the polish that was put into mastering the tracks. Even with end-of-track fadeouts and breaks between them, the tracks flow together smoothly. No matter how you listen, you’re sure to find something to love.
Released on 8/28/2020 by Business Casual, Gateway’s run of 75 cassettes quickly sold out. Having listened to this album a number of times for this review, I can wholeheartedly say it deserves to have a second run of tapes. Until then, you can still check it out digitally, carrying this beautiful gateway to another world with you wherever you go.