There’s something extra unusual about looking back at vaporwave—a genre already consumed with nostalgia—10 years down the line. When the genre first emerged in the early ’10s, it confounded in its utter contradiction of what made so much of the music industry function up to that point. Vaporwave’s reckless use of samples, sea of anonymous artists, free-of-charge ethos, and embrace of sounds and styles often looked down upon by common tentpoles of taste set it apart so much that many critics at the time rejected it completely. But nonetheless, vaporwave kept chugging on, to the point where now its irreverent, internet-damaged fingerprints are noticeable in the culture everywhere.
Few have dedicated themselves so dutifully to the genre as Business Casual, who are celebrating their 10-year anniversary with this collection of some of the net label’s juiciest shopping-mall-funk cuts. Labelhead John Zobele (aka christtt) has always maintained an ambitious release schedule: the label drops a new album every single Friday at noon without fail, a philosophy that’s resulted in an absolutely massive catalog of releases over the years. At three hours long, BIZCAS10 spins like an endless DJ mix, sucking you into a whirlpool of fudged up ‘80s rhythms, soul samples distorted beyond recognition, and CD-skipping bliss.
The compilation leads us down a heavenly hallway of vaporwave’s greatest hits, cruising through various phases: vice-AIRバイス-空気自然の愛’s funky “intercast インターキャスト” shimmies and bustles with its booming snare hits, while Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza cranks the distortion into oblivion on the crunched up VHS jam “IBM Lotus Night.” Corrupt Save’s “Chatroom” grooves on a syrupy waiting room slide, rocking the listener into a lull before christtt’s own “ホーリーゴースト (holy ghost)” plumbs the uncanny valley with its video game-y chimes and hard-panned, hold music–handclaps. The most disorienting textures may very well go to Electric Specter 電妖怪’s “Mr. Icy Bones,” whose marimba-like synths ricochet around in all directions as the footwork-y beat races frantically underneath.
Between the compilation’s hands-in-the-air future funk (マクロスMACROSS 82-99’s “愛-MEETING POINT”), slowed-down lounge mirages (haircuts for men’s “呼吸蒸気”), and dreamy ‘90s dance vignettes (Simple Syrup’s “Xylitol”), BIZCAS10 captures vaporwave’s many different faces, underlining the inherent playfulness of the genre. Beyond all its musical subversions and undercutting of capitalist tropes, Business Casual’s latest compilation is above all a fun listen—a way to enjoy vaporwave not just for its conceptual heavy lifting, but for its hypnotic sonic pleasures.