wassuop is the musical project of Patrick Sproull out of Oakland, California that was born in the wide expressiveness of midtempo then buoyed considerably by the sheer magnetism of glitch hop. His funky broken beats hammer out a joyful sub-pulse across the spectrum of frequencies while telling stories through a vocal midbass element. His debut album Sunset Architect was a sonic achievement that unlocked his potential and earned immediate exposure through the releasing label Street Ritual. Now, Drawing a Blank released through the Bellingham, Washington-based label Danktronics symbolizes a salute northward. Since that first release in June of 2016, wassuop has played out for the Pacific Northwest’s true fans more times than perhaps any other group. Drawing a Blank is not only a thirst-quencher for the fanbase he has garnished but also a darker take on the same colors used in Sunset Architect.
Danktronics are quite the set of glitch gangsters, and their influence is reflected in the tracks wassuop chose to release through the label. “Lysergic Tempura” channels the Middle Eastern influences in the plucked strings that were already used to a crystallizing effect on “Wet Jewelry” off Sunset Architect. Now, wassuop’s fresh take on these influences has a weightless natural percussion combined with more swagger and sludge in its commanding sound design. The title track uses similar twangs over a magnificent and teeming glitch sub-pulse. The sound design then takes hold and moves forward to absorb the audience's attention, before dropping well-rounded bass tones in upbeat triplets. “Grossly Incandescent” shines a light on the darkness of the echoing reverb on a kick drum, with glitches that smear their colors and growl with a lisp. This soupy mess of sounds maintains a clean beat, and as a result is both danceable and jaw-droppingly abstract, truly encapsulating the mood of the album in its final track.
The real humdinger is the penultimate track, which is generally the best place to break up the mood in any four-track EP. “Licked” begins with the shining light of the arpeggiator, before leading the way with a cowbell deep in a reverb pit, and finally dropping into a spare, low-end get down that alternates with the cowbell's clarity. Ponderously wandering through a synth melody, the midbass gets fuzzier and lazily blows raspberries at the listener. Suddenly, the song appears to trail off as the melody resolves, but it comes winding back with a vengeance, cutting delicious polyrhythms that mete out an entirely new story. While Drawing a Blank is a far departure from the relentless optimism of wassuop’s first release that so magically caught our ear, the growth feels organic and comfortable given the influential relationship the producer has maintained with the Pacific Northwest.
A wassuop release through Danktronics not only affirms the relationship between him and his distant squadron of fans, it also provides a potential flashpoint between the two. The once unknown label that, by some underground magic, would release music from artists with larger followings than the label alongside completely unknown producers, is now releasing music from artists with smaller but diverse followings, creating a cross-pollination of audiences. Both wassuop and Danktronics are breaking the mold of their local scene by forming lasting artistic relationships in the early years of their development.
There is an air of excitement around midtempo glitch in the state of Washington that is irrepressibly growing, and Drawing a Blank is emblematic of this growth. Even in a vacuum, this new album is a huge step for Patrick artistically, proving his midnight dancefloor accessibility with a swill of confidence that maintains his effortlessly synesthetic sound design and attentiveness to the sub-pulse. Despite the dark ambiance of his new wonky tunes, the future of wassuop looks bright.