(UPDATE: Feb. 9. Someone impersonating enigmatic synthwave pioneer MPM Soundtracks ended up serving as a catalyst for the real MPM to return. Then that impostor claimed Vehlinggo was in on it all along — an untrue and bizarre claim. This might be the last time I bother with these obscure synthwave debacles. Original Feb. 8 piece and updates are below.)
Over the past few days, there’s been some buzz in the synthwave underground that legendary and enigmatic producer MPM Soundtracks had returned from years of obscurity. SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages showed up (now shuttered), the former even offering a gmail address to contact him directly. Wowza! Beneficence during such a dark time!
But is it real? The gmail account provided does not match the one some of us have used to contact MPM in the past. An MPM account largely believed to be the real MPM’s confirmed on Twitter, and, more importantly, in an email to me, that it’s not him.
“No, that is not mine,” he wrote using a non-gmail address. On Twitter, he indicated he doesn’t have either a SoundCloud or Bandcamp page. He’s set nothing up since leaving the underground synthwave scene.
In his nearly 7,000 member Facebook group, Synthetix Music, synthwave scholar and movement founding father Rick Shithouse was among those who questioned the veracity of the supposed MPM return.
“Right from the outset none of it ‘sat right’ for me,” he said. Among the pieces of evidence he cited was that the language used in promoting the music seemed to not fit the MPM (AKA Clive) that people previously knew.
For a brief amount of time, the impostor was selling apparent rips of MPM’s tracks on Bandcamp, earning an undetermined amount of cash pawning music they didn’t own. Proffered was a Lost Tapes EP that’s not apparently official and offered no rare or new cuts.
Perhaps in response to people calling out the impostor, the songs are now available for free.
Another thing that changed is that the page initially featured language promising a new release coming soon, saying his return would be “much anticipated” and “controversial.” In other words, language MPM himself would likely not use.
SoundCloud is trickier, as is often the case. The account, about as old as Trump’s addled presidency to date, still uses promotional language and even posted a “new” song in the last six hours.
I even called out the apparent impostor on SoundCloud and they responded that they are real and that this skepticism was why they left the scene in the first place. Then they threatened to not release an alleged upcoming release before walking that threat back.
Whereas the putative impostor is relenting on one front, it seems on this one the possibly thieving inclinations are harder to temper.
The fact that someone was seemingly able to claim prime MPM property is an indicator of the real MPM’s monastic approach to visibility. That leaves people wondering where they can go for the real stuff. Well, even if nothing’s official, YouTube does offer some avenues. You can also verify authenticity with synthwave scholars like Shithouse. I personally don’t know enough to discuss the particulars of early early pioneers like MPM — such as why he retired or what’s even real anymore. That’s where folks like Shithouse are a true resource.
Anyway, now you’re aware. It’s a damn shame when people seem to pose as others for cash, but it’s almost worse when the allegedly victimized artist has “legendary” status and the imitation of which brings false hope at a time when we need the real variety.
(UPDATE: 4 p.m., Feb. 8, 2017: The MPM Soundtracks Twitter account posted the following. Click on it for the real MPM SoundCloud. An official YouTube channel also exists.):
UPDATE: Feb. 9: Now the situation has changed drastically. The impostor has shuttered the SoundCloud and Bandcamp accounts, following the return of the real MPM. The impostor claims this was the plan all along — even asserting to people that Vehlinggo was an active agent in this plan. It calls for this question: Were Vehlinggo and others who reacted strongly mere pawns at the hands of some masterful marketing wizard, ends justifying the means? Or did the impostor just respond to getting caught trying to make money off someone else’s intellectual property? I guess we’ll never truly know.
From an email (the fake gmail one) to Vehlinggo: