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Old 16-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #1
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Talkin bout waporvave

I have been listening to a lot of vaporwave, and thinking about it a lot too. I think that it's a very interesting thing. I've also heard the terms "computergaze", "mediagaze", "mallsoft", "webwave" thrown about, amongst others.

There are a few articles floating around talking about it, and though the critical interpretation has generally copped a bit of flak from producers and fans involved in vaporwave I think that the basic premises seem pretty well understood. Here's my understanding of it anyways.

Basically it's about taking sounds that are soulless, commercial, superficial, or otherwise seem to lack true artistic integrity (whatever that really means) and imbuing them with a sense of wonder, or mystique, or haunting, or divinity, or something like that. And often it's about doing it in such a way that it brings light to hidden beauty or depth in the source material. Like take the backing track from an infomercial about stain remover, or a loop from the web lobby of a mid-to-high class seaside resort hotel, or the call waiting tune for a matress and bedding outlet, and then cut it up, pitch it down, loop bits of it, layer it over itself, pile effects on, and turn it into a more engaging version of the original.

What I like about all this is that it makes vaporwave a bit different to the type of genre that is characterised by a certain sound, bpm range, or rhythmic structure. Instead this stuff is based around a philosophy, and the sounds that one could arrive at through working from the philosophy are incredibly diverse. A lot of vaporwave is lo-fi, but a lot of it is hi-fi too. Lots of it is ambient or soundscape, some is danceable, some is noise or sound collage. Sample material can come from any era, though most often it's taken from between the 80s and the current day. Production techniques aren't restricted at all. You don't have to be sample based either - you can produce original material that is merely referential to a style or vibe or period that you wanna pastiche.

And because it's (often but not always*) about making something deep out of something shallow, and these terms are entirely interpretive and subjective, then the restrictions on what material to use and what to do with it is entirely up to your own tastes. I've heard vaporwave based on disco, corporate mood music / muzak / elevator music, childrens television themes, adult contemporary, smooth jazz and lounge music, eurotrance, video game music, etc.

*another tactic is to take something you think is amazing, but others seem to think is superficial or cheesy or whatever (or something that everyone thinks is amazing but won't admit it though they loop it over and over in their head like some cheesy sitcom intro track or something) and do something to it to bring out the amazing parts so that you can show people what you see in it. Some of that corporate produced session musician shit that plays over shopping center PAs or radio ads for sports shoes or whatever is really specifically and carefully engineered to induce emotions of calm, confidence, comfort, openness, etc, so as to influence the decisions of their shoppers. As the mood media website puts it, "we design and build experiences that stimulate sales and strengthen brand loyalty" and they pour shitloads of money into doing that. By fucking with that music you can tap into that engineered capability and fuck with the nature of the induced experiences.

Decent playlist:

The other thing is that vaporwave is very much a multimedia movement. There's a lot of visual art that goes along with it too.

Here's a visual aid:

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Here's some tracks I've enjoyed:

Last edited by AsylumSeaker; 17-08-2013 at 11:13 PM..


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