For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Ambient music for hyper-digital hyper-realities.
FOR FANS OF: Oneohtrix Point Never, Ryuichi Sakamoto, 2814.
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Nico Niquo is getting the rare vinyl release from Orange Milk Records, the taste-making cassette label existing at the Tron-bike parallels of vaporwave, experimental electronic music and cutting-edge graphic design. The Melbourne-based 23-year-old born Nico Callaghan creates drifts that nostalgically soothe like some synthetic Windows 3.0–era New Age record, but also yearn with the melancholy only time can provide.
His second album, In a Silent Way, has the textures of dance music (he's a fan of electronic experimentalists like Jam City and Huerco S.), but instead of throbbing, it swirls in a beatless cloud cluster. "Making music inspired by dance music, grid-like structures and Futurism is really fun because you can let your imagination run kind of wild," says Callaghan, "but I wanted to give myself a really odd constraint to drive me to make something a bit more unusual, so no beats. A beat implies something very distinct, but I think it's possible to make more evocative music in a slightly askew and odd sonic environment."
HE SAYS: "There are only a handful of 'instruments' on the album – some clarinet, saxophone and mallet percussion that friends and I recorded. Apart from that, everything else is kind of like a cheap, plastic impression of an instrument or something divorced from reality altogether. But the main instrumental sound I built everything else around is the 'eski' grime synth that Wiley brought to real prominence about 15 years ago. To me, that synth sound is the most futuristic, evocative sound ever."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: The title track to In a Silent Way is a cinematic cluster of arpeggios that recall an anime rendering of Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi.