Documentary is the debut album from Chicago-based synth maestro Rolan Vega. A collection of his favorite songs and sketches that he has done over the course of the past couple years (often times to accompany super 8 films), the release embraces a lo-fi aesthetic, bringing together a love of old synthesizers and textures for a varied grouping of fifteen songs that run just over forty minutes. I don't know Vega personally, but after listening to these songs, it's hard not to imagine him as some sort of studio mad scientist, laboring over his pieces much the same way that the largely anonymous composers of "library music" composers of decades ago did.
Recorded on a four track, most of the pieces on Documentary have a sort of half-blurred sonic quality that only works in their favor given the sounds themselves. Although not similar musically, the sounds evoke the same sort of sepia-toned age that music by Boards Of Canada and others have harnessed. That said, the short release calls to mind a huge variety of different feels. "Motion Crisis (Featuring Mr. Perkins)" is three and a half minutes of overlapping, rippling synth washes that come in somewhere between Tangerine Dream and Cluster, with repeating arpeggios dunked with deep low end. "Viva Myria" takes a different route, collapsing what sounds like two or three different field recordings on top of one another for a resulting piece that sounds something like a haunted string quartet and Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares drifting out the fog from a cemetery late at night.
On several shorter tracks, Vega flirts more with feedback and distortion, but his pieces never quite go over the edge into showy noise. On pieces like "Nether" and "Guitav," there's are finely-controlled waves of fierceness, but they lurk just beyond reach and create even more tension by doing so. "4 Autiim" and "Playlite" both flirt with minimal techno, as they introduce repetitive beats while keeping the same hazy textural elements and keen sense of progression. The latter evolves with such a simple but engrossing feel that I can't help but want him to explore that direction in deeper ways on future releases.
In places, it definitely feels like a series of vignettes, but despite this it retains a largely cohesive feel that carries throughout. For fans of any of the aforementioned sounds, Documentary is an intriguing debut that will have you going back to listen to it often.