Have you ever wanted to hear My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade sampled in a drum and bass song? Well, look no further than Cacola’s A Gift to Us All.
Taking vaporwave aesthetics then paring with faster tempos and breakbeat tropes, atmospheric drum and bass rose to prominence on this website with last year’s Draining Love Story. Drum and bass wasn’t a completely new genre. Hell, you could trace the genre’s roots back to the early 90s, even having David Bowie dabble in the style in the late 90s, but Draining Love Story through in an atmospheric flair, one that made the album unlike most that had come before, one that made the album the perfect drum and bass record to listen to while depressed at 3 AM. It ended up being the popularization point for atmospheric drum and bass on this website, and while the album was fairly panned upon release, as the number of days spent in the year went up, so did the album's average score.
A Gift to Us All is a spiritual successor to Draining Love Story of sorts. While not basking in its influences of Draining Love Story too much, it takes a lot of the magic that made the atmospheric drum and bass sound Draining Love Story achieved so special and does it well more consistently than that album. Few of Cacola’s songs fall under 6 minutes, so you can bet that many of them progress throughout their goliath runtime. No song ends in the same way it started. Even better, Cacola rarely ever fails to deliver on the ambition these track lengths may make you fear. It’s a constant showcase of Cacola’s endless creativity. Color is flowing through its veins, especially on the track Birds which is suffused with Animal Crossing-esque bird squeaks, buried vocal samples, and video-game-inspired synthesizers. Yet another standout moment is Birthday Girl, the song where My Chemical Romance is so prominently sampled as it falls behind what sounds almost like a "World Beat" screen at the end of a level from an old NES game. The video-game influence from old NES-era soundtracks that are slowly making the rise back to being as renowned as they were in the 90s due to Indie studios pushing the envelope is undeniable, at times it can even be its detriment with it sounding a bit too close to the classic soundtracks it was based on such as early Mario games, though it comes from a place of appreciation most of the time. The album captures a feeling that I can’t help but admire when done right: true artificial nostalgia. Through its heavy influence of retro video-game soundtracks, cycling arpeggios, and reverb-drenched drums, A Gift To Us All carries some truly intoxicating magic that very few albums contain, and I cherish that in it.
Favorite Tracks: Birds, Birthday Girl, The Perfect Shape, How to Take Complete Control of Everything and Everyone, Age of Disintegration, A Room With No Doors, Unseen Assets
Worst Track: Taperz