The producer inspired by new age music, video game soundtracks and instrumental grime shares a new mix as he releases latest album Project Nautilus
Yamaneko first emerged, out of nowhere, with his debut album Pixel Wave Embrace in 2014. Pixel Wave Embrace was a subtle but magical little record that brought elements of new age and video game soundtracks to the loose rhythmic templates of instrumental grime, a similar sound that he’d explore on the accompanying Pixel Juice and Pixel Healing Spa mixes, as well as this year’s collaborative album with Mr. Mitch (recorded under the name Yaroze Dream Suite).
Now, Yamaneko is releasing his solo follow-up to Pixel Wave Embrace. Project Nautilus takes a far darker turn than its predecessor, inspired by the anonymous 16-bit songs that often play with illegally downloaded keygens as well as the aquatic electro of cult group Drexciya – it’s an introverted, singular, but undeniably emotional album, made all the more poignant due to a tragedy in Yamaneko’s personal life that occurred not long after he finished recording.
Yamaneko put together a new mix – titled Nautilus Dusk – to coincide with the album’s release. It features new music from himself, SNES-era video game composers, and the minimal electronica of Gui Boratto and Trentemøller. We caught up with Yamaneko over email to discuss the mix and the genesis of Project Nautilus.
Tell us about Project Nautilus.
Yamaneko: Without wanting to get too melodramatic right off the bat, Project Nautilus pretty much saved my life. All of the music was written during a weird time where I was exhausted, unhappy and beat up from day job and personal shit and just stopped going out or talking to people outside of gigs or the odd occasion I was feeling alright. That being said, the album isn’t supposed to be sad – it’s a celebration of realising who you really are and what things and people inspire or make you happy.
For me, this album is a tribute to what got me thru and out of the abyss – virtual worlds, keygen music, videogame music, club music, grime, techno, field recordings, vine, Distortion2’s Dark Souls speedruns, special friends and most of all, my mum. I spoke to her the most during the Nautilus period and I owe her everything. She got me into all this shit you know. She coincidentally bought nearly all the Sega games that Yuzo Koshiro wrote the soundtrack of and was also heavy into new age tapes and was just generally the absolute bollocks.
She tragically, suddenly passed away the week we announced the album, so this is absolutely for her now. It was anyway, but more than ever. She essentially wrote it in a way.
Keygens are something than a lot of young people grew up with, but few probably thought twice about the sheer weirdness of them – the trademarks and designs that hackers make for themselves, the custom music, etc. When did you first start consciously thinking about them?
Yamaneko: I’m quite bait really, I’ve always been into anything that reminds me of The Matrix, so it probably stems from that and burrowing deep into the cyberpunk Alice In Wonderland rebore rabbit hole. I think it’s rad the effort keygen makers and demoscene creators put in to these freely distributed small interfaces that can make any kid trying to download a cracked copy of WhateverPro 2.7 feel like fucking The One or something. The tunes bang too.
“Without wanting to get too melodramatic right off the bat, Project Nautilus pretty much saved my life” – Yamaneko
Do you feel your brain has been ruined by spending years of your life online, or has it ultimately made you a better person?
Yamaneko: Ruined? I mean, sure my attention span is utterly destroyed, but I’ll take forgetting what on earth I was trying to achieve on Chrome tab number 27 over letting my view of the world be shaped by whoever happened to be born near me. Fuck that. Online you can connect to people all over the gaff who have shared similar experiences as you, or wildly different ones that you can either learn from or live vicariously through – whatever, the point is that you’re in control. The online world is extremely important to me and a real potential tool for good if people weren't such dickheads.
What’s going on in this mix then?
Yamaneko: It’s something of a conclusion to the Nautilus period that began with the Nautilus Dawn mix I did for Deadboy’s NTS show. I didn’t intend on doing another ~**tRiLoGy**~ of mixes at all but it just made sense to close this period off from the perspective of the other side, where I can celebrate the very special tunes that made me who I am as a person as well as Yamaneko. As usual there are tunes from some of my all time favourite artists and videogame composers, close friends, keygen things, textures and some silly things I’ve done too. And some personal sprinkles cos I’m a massive softie init.
02. Sad-Rave – “Majula”
03. Nobuo Uematsu – “Awakening” (Yamaneko Peach Strats Mix)
04. Yamaneko – “The Secret Of Primrose Island”
05. Shota Kageyama – “Santalune Forest”
06. Nifflas – “Ping”
07. Ohso – “Act One”
08. Suzuka – “Uzume”
09. The Tone Of The Number 5 – “Revharp”
10. Satoru Kosaki – “Touch And Go (Airport)”
11. Parris – “Bloom”
12. Gui Boratto – “Mr. Decay”
13. Dubmood – “Cydonian Sky 2 (Quantum Cracktro)”
14. Orloc – “Sad Boscage”
15. Yamaneko – “Misty Jam 02”
16. Yamaneko – “Misty Jam” (Solid Blake Edit)
17. Yamaneko – “Spinal Drex”
18. Trentemøller – “Miss You” (Yamaneko's Astral Clocktower Mix)
19. “Like The Rain Only Gentle”
Local Action release Project Nautilus on October 10