HIDDEN GEMS Opsroom and Pablo Vostok Expanded on Electronic Music’s Y2K Nostalgia Trend By James Gui · April 21, 2023

Chile’s got its own share of Y2K-minded electronic artists, and Sello Medio Oriente might be considered a hub for that aesthetic: Team Mekano’s Anthony1, DJ Daddy Yonqui, and DJ Tekkeño are all regulars at their gigs. The music released on the label, founded the same year The Guardian pondered the longevity of the Y2K revival, lifts its affects from space between alienation and nostalgia, and the aesthetic they peddle in is more prevalent than ever. This 2018 EP, however, might be one that slips under the radar: a split between mysterious artist Opsroom and Pablo Vostok, KINEOS showcases a wintry combination of IDM and chiptune that doesn’t so much follow the Y2K trend as run orthogonal to it, building an alternate universe of nostalgia.

While not much information can be found about Opsroom the artist, they may have lifted their moniker from a source even earlier than the year 2000: the early 1970s Cybersyn project under Salvador Allende, whose vision of cybernetic management of labor may have prefigured dreams of fully automated luxury communism by half a century. The Opsroom—a futuristic operations room complete with Tulip chairs—was a key component of the plan before the military coup that installed Pinochet in 1973; the dictator saw no need for the project to continue. The yearning that shows through in the Opsroom segment of this split might then be for unfulfilled possibilities rather than a halcyon past. “Benthos” imagines wonders at the bottom of the sea, drill and bass rhythms propelling through aquatic melody. “Dipnoise,” on the other hand, is a calmer ambient track, and “Radón” brings back the groove at a steadier, Boards of Canada-esque clip. There’s a sense of wonder that Opsroom explores here, one as cold as it is hopeful.

Pablo Vostok’s contributions occupy much of the same exploratory headspace, using a sound palette that evokes low-poly video game worlds. “El Corazón Es Una Bestia” is apprehensive, incessant kicks and enigmatic idiophones creating an effect akin to an abandoned spaceship level. “Pathos Es Mi Ethos” makes moderate use of bitcrushing, chiptune, and dial tones, more directly associating itself with the virtual. Vostok closes the record with the record’s most experimental work “Los Patos, 1976,” which is shot through with dissonant, meandering piano lines. Fleshing things out are synth swells and a beat that rivals the split’s first track in skittishness, before giving way to the piano yet again. KINEOS offers a look into the depths of the Chilean electronic music scene, where there’s still much to imagine.

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