As long as there has been art, there has been characterisations and stereotypes placed on artists, the most recurrent and best known being the idea of the starving artist, who works and works despite their brilliance in life, penniless and destitute, only to die with their work to be appreciated after death. J.S.Bach died in obscurity, yet is often held as one of the most important composers in the western canon, rehabilitated after hundreds of years. The advent of the digital age, however, has transformed this process from hundreds of years to a mere decade, to the point where even modern artists forgotten almost entirely by the world can have their careers resuscitated.
Sweet Trip is the musical collaboration of synth virtuoso Roberto Burgos and singer and pianist Valerie Cooper, a union formed in 1993 at a high school talent meet born of a love of similar music. A series of impromptu jam sessions later and Sweet Trip was formed, a small timey electronic/shoegaze trio that had no real intention of scoring big or playing into convention in the American indie scene. Sweet Trip simply existed to do their own thing, which over time would more esoteric and monolithic in scale. Outsider artists in a sense, and never invited to festivals, Sweet Trip would plod on and produce their most important record in 2003 – to zero fanfare and little reception.
An hour and 13 minutes of pure unrestrained creativity- V:D:C is wildly experimental and as of the present day, championed as one of the most ahead of its time records of the 2000s
Said record, Velocity Design Comfort, is, given this context, absurd. An hour and 13 minutes of pure unrestrained creativity- V:D:C is wildly experimental and as of the present day, championed as one of the most ahead of its time records of the 2000s. A blend of the IDM of Aphex Twin and the shoegaze sensibilities of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, V:D:C is a gleaming jewel amongst a sea of American indie that never so much as broaches the style and charm it possesses that went, perhaps to Sweet Trips’ expectation, unrewarded and misunderstood. Burgos notes in an interview of being told to play the rest of the band’s discography live- as “people will like that better”. Sweet Trip looked doomed; to live out life as starving artists whose brilliance would be disregarded while they were together and would only be discovered in later years.
Sweet Trip put out their excellent yet wildly more conventional You Will Never Know Why in 2009. While well received and praised, the stylistic leap was almost regressive, the lofty aspirations of V:D:C left by the wayside. In 2013, Roberto Burgos would pull the metaphorical plug on Sweet Trip, posting on his SoundCloud one last song: ‘things to ponder while falling’. The description read “probably *not* the last Sweet Trip song ever”- but the intention was clear. Beyond a small release on their label’s compilations and a compilation of album scraps (the surest sign a project is dead), Sweet Trip was over.
Sweet Trip was doomed to a tragic fate, yet the information age has interrupted that tale
So how come in 2021, I am sitting with a new Sweet Trip record before me? 12 long years down the line and Sweet Trip is as alive as any current musical project; an hour and 9 minutes of brand-new music, immaculately polished and presented. Sweet Trip were doomed to a tragic fate, yet the information age has interrupted that tale. What began in small forum discussion of V:D:C by the most dedicated music fans has grown over years, the recommendation passing by like a virus; a testament perhaps to Sweet Trip’s musical skill. As a small fanbase arose around the record, calls for a vinyl reissue of V:D:C were begged for and with this pressure, in 2019, Darla Records reissued it. This clear desire for more Sweet Trip reaching the ears of Burgos and Cooper, 2020 seeing our first taste of new material from the band, followed by a single in 2021. And now a brand-new album sits before us, as if no time has ever passed.
The ability for an algorithm to recommend such an overwhelming amount of music has made streaming music in 2021 feel almost outside of time. These events have occurred so recently, that the fact there has been a 12-year gap matters not to new fans. I discovered Sweet Trip in 2019 and with the pandemic changing perception of time anyway, the wait has felt almost non-existent. Sweet Trip’s story is fascinating on a multitude of levels; it’s a clear story of how the internet has changed how we consume and approach media, a musing on the end of time constrained genres due to mass music accessibility and plainly, incredibly inspiring. If Sweet Trip were able to come back, which other forgotten artists can the internet restore to rightful appreciation? Only time will tell, but I’d rather have more stories like Sweet Trip’s and less like Bach’s.