When listening to ambient, the word “glamorous” doesn’t often come to mind. It can be difficult to escape certain hallmarks of the genre, be it the characteristic wind-like sound effects or the clicks and chatters of house music, the wonderful world of ambient can feel no bigger than a foggy fish bowl at times. Enter Crossface Chicken Wing, the second full-length release from Vancouver-based artist The Golden Age of Wrestling. Dope names aside, the record is meant to encapsulate the vibe of “glam-bient,” and accomplishes this with hardly a click or rimshot in earshot. Utilising airy pads and rounded-sounding synths in conjunction with pop-sensitive melodies and one-phrase grooves, the record comes out sounding both novel and representative of the genre at the same time.
Crossface Chicken Wing starts off on a strong foot with “i miss eating big league chew and watching nitro in the basement of your old house,” by playing with bouncy synth lines and muffled vocal samples to bring the song into an extremely catchy B-section, which features a brilliant piano melody. The Golden Age of Wrestling plays with an eclectic array of sounds, but their usage of analog-sounding keys shouldn’t be understated. There are moments where a few stray piano notes cut through the aether of the soundscape, elevating the experience to a whole new level. The good vibes keep rolling on the single “almanac” and its nostalgia-inducing melodic ideas that wouldn’t be out of place in an indie rock jam, what with its muddy string arpeggios and warbly piano leads that successfully evokes a Drukqs-era Aphex Twin.
The album keeps on giving with the collaborative tune “body shots montage,” featuring the artist’s alter ego, Devours, and takes a quick detour into a shifting electro-punk anthem. It’s a definite highlight on the record for its abstract, washed-out intro, eerie vocals, and snappy transitioning between segments of the track. Crossface Chicken Wing is closed out by “koala kisses,” which sounds like it could be the end credits theme for a lost mid-2000s indie game. Its chiptune leads drowning in reverb are neatly coupled by classy SFX usage and comfortably wrapped in gorgeous synth padding, a fitting finale for such a record.
Effortlessly marrying a myriad of influences, from genre-defining soundscapes to 8-bit curiosities, Crossface Chicken Wing is able to present itself as a contender in the ambient space. Dripping with character, it will be hard to ignore what The Golden Age of Wrestling does next. The hooks are sticky, the sounds are engaging, and the music is absolutely glamourous.