Chillwave's notoriety didn't last too long, but many of its signifiers have become an almost ubiquitous part of the independent music world. Heavy usage of reverb, sunny atmospherics, upbeat tempos, '80s-pop inclinations—the way these elements are applied to a song can often make the difference between a vapid stinker and a contemporary treasure. The Cascine label is no stranger to the pieces left over by chillwave, having built a reputation on signing artists who can skillfully mesh those sounds with well-crafted pop. So, it's little surprise that Cascine's first release of 2012, the six-track Futures EP by newcomer RxGibbs, uncovers some of the best examples of how you can apply that aesthetic to ambient techno.
Producer Ron Gibbs is at the core of his EP, though he cites additional instrumentalists and vocalists as contributors. Those people undoubtedly played their part in making RxGibbs' music while singing a melody or performing a synthline, but no sound went untreated by the Michigan-based artist. Each vocal utterance on Futures is chopped, sequenced, and dropped into an echo chamber; each instrument is filtered and compressed for maximum nostalgic effect. Only the simple and buoyant drum patterns sound untouched relative to the dense sprawl of gaseous synth tones and infinite effects trails. It actually makes for some strangely catchy tunes. "Silver," "Proxy," and "Split Infinity" do it well, when the music sounds something like The Field rescoring Sixteen Candles, but the title track is the strongest evidence of RxGibbs' ability to mix the hypnotic qualities of dancefloor music with the salvageable components of chillwave—making a sound that isn't just palatable, but also surprisingly refreshing.