Sponsored Content

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Sponsored Content Review

by Paul Simpson

Following a debut full-length that explored themes of artificial intelligence and molecular biology, Canadian electronic producer Antwood turned to the phenomenon of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos for inspiration for his second album. Antwood had been using the videos, which utilize soft voices and intimate acoustic sounds in order to trigger tingling sensations and euphoric feelings, as a sleeping aid. One popular ASMR video producer decided to incorporate advertising into her videos, which Antwood found disturbing, as he did not want to be subliminally targeted during a state of vulnerability and semi-lucidity. However, it did give him ideas for this album, which is titled Sponsored Content, and features familiar advertising catch phrases and references to products or corporations popping up throughout the music, resembling a glitchy update of The Who Sell Out or the first Sigue Sigue Sputnik album. A whispered "I'm lovin' it" (in reference to the McDonald's slogan) appears multiple times, and one track has the punning title "I'm Lovin' I.T." There's also several references to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, spoken by a manipulated voice that seems like it's nervously laughing. As ever, Antwood's sound design is intense and overwhelming, juxtaposing rapid crashing and whirring noises with sudden, confusing passages of crystalline new age tones (sometimes stretched out into full tracks, like the intentionally refreshing "FIJI Water"), then throwing in strange samples of tortured screams. The album seems a bit more scattered and less focused on rhythm than Virtuous.scr was, and the influence of styles like trap and footwork is less apparent here (notwithstanding the crunchy, fractured trap beat of "Commodity Fetish Mode"). It's also more spacious and melodic at times, such as the serene "Wait for Yengi." Following "Don't Go," which ends with an evil robot voice declaring that it will obliterate its opponents, the album concludes with "Human," a strange piano-driven, trance-influenced cyber-ballad that falls somewhere between Garden of Delete and computer music pioneer Charles Dodge programming an R&B single. Darkly humorous and somewhat scary, the album serves as a fascinating commentary on the presence of advertising in our daily lives. Rather than ignoring it, Antwood embraces it, subverts it, and turns it into mind-blowing meta-art.

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