Seeing as most of my releases draw from video game soundtrack, it’s not a surprise this one kind of does too. Delving into these PC-Engine and NES role playing games often feels like rummaging through an old cardboard box in the attic and it always gives me intriguing new ideas I want to implement in my style of music. That’s when the clashing begins. The synthwavey aspect of the ep certainly stems from games like Hotline Miami or Slipstream, but there is no denying the fact that HOME played a role, too. Translating those influences into a coherent sound is difficult but also very interesting.
Choke is probably the darkest release I’ve ever put out, and it originally stemmed from hearing an ice cream truck rolling around my neighbourhood late at night. There’s something so fiercely unnerving about that, something innocent and sweet turned suddenly sour under sinister circumstances. I mean, I don’t know what that guy is doing, but he sure ain’t selling snowcones!
When we played it for the first time, I was only about 10 years old and I was just thrilled to experience those adventures with all these colourful Disney characters. I wasn’t always there when my friend played it so I never saw everything in the game. And I didn’t even understand or process what was happening story-wise. But for years after that it stuck with me, that boy called Sora and his adventures.
Or look to the entire genre of Future Funk. The sounds draw on 80s J-Pop, City Pop and retro music, and its images draw from their parallels in 80s and 90s anime. Looping clips of anime girls, either from legacy series like Urusei Yatsura , or their modern counterparts , are a cornerstone of the genre. What’s the purpose of these loops? To inject the kind of colour and vim which anime is so perfect at. A combination of cuteness and energy which is able to attract the eye and the ear. You don’t need to be an ‘anime’ fan to enjoy them, you just need to vibe with it.
It also has a great, styalised visual aesthetic. It’s telling that all three anime I’ve responded to this season focus on making their visuals charming and memorable, rather than just shiny. Ultimately the show is just so darn sincere, any creative, of any stripe or type, will likely see a bit of themselves in Eizouken.
Miku delivered in full force at Brixton. Her lightshow was excellent. The live band were beyond reproach, adding a little frisson of organic energy into the otherwise digital proceedings. Miku’s support squad of Vocaloids (Len and Rin being the most impressive consorts) added a mix of varied colours to the proceedings. Quite literally in fact, as the obligatory glowsticks wielded by the crowd turn into their respective colours depending on the Vocaloid singing.
The story of popular music downloads starts with something decidedly guerrilla. Napster. Back in 1999, when the service launched, the idea of using the internet to fileshare was still in its infancy. Part of the reason was the clunky dial-up internet most users had access to, another was the fact that the idea simply hadn’t entered public consciousness yet. 1999 was CD Country- with bands able to shift millions upon millions of units- ironclad by the MTV Industrial Complex.
Live shows change that. You have to be in New York, San Diego, London to be able to go to live events. They’re clustered in big, traditionally music focused cities. You need the cash to shell out for hotel rooms, travel, tickets. Some people won’t even be able to get in the door if they missed out on snagging one. Suddenly Vaporwave starts to look a lot more like a regular music genre, one with physical limitations. Where it helps to know who is who, what’s hot- what’s not, and what’s happening downtown. An evolution, or a regression?
To take computing out of the vaults of the elite and the corporate, and into the living rooms of America, seems obvious. It’s such a blunt truism in 2019- why shouldn’t everyone have access to a computer? But in the late ’70s, the ambition of Jobs was Promethean. Everyone must have the power to self-actualise, everyone must have the tools the chart their own course. The promise of computing, dynamism and power: for everyone.
In the midst of this chaos, the mixed feelings many hardcore Vaporwave fans have for the album can be understandable. While this plethora of jokes may amuse, it’s unclear what exactly is being constructed from them. Other than the internet’s love of culture jamming for jamming’s sake. Memes are supposed to be absurd, and the more irreverent or abstract the combination, the better.