Tag Archives: Vaporwave

In “Naturewave,” Forest Sounds Mask Sinister Subtext

VaporwaveNature-600

Pyravid

Vaporwave is notorious for its many proliferating subgenres and memes, but there’s one strand that appears to have been largely neglected by most commentaries and breakdowns of the genre to date. And while “naturewave”—for lack of a better term—isn’t big enough to be recognized as a legitimate subgenre by the vaporwave community, the number of albums that this term describes has been steadily growing since at least 2014. As with every other branch of vaporwave, the specific characteristics of these albums tend to vary, but all of them share a fixation with nature and the natural world, which is evident in their predominantly leafy green artwork and the often New Age-y sounds they appropriate. But more than this, they’re also fascinated by the ways society perceives and constructs nature, and with how the natural world is often used as a dubiously reassuring counterpoint to the artificiality and coldness of the modern world.

Here are the records filling out the “naturewave” sound.

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The Flourishing Electro Scene in the D.R.

Volt Phonic

Volt Phonic

The Dominican music scene is in the middle of an electronic revival. Well, a slow revival. But as musicians and fans across the island can attest, something is happening. Clubs are beginning to host more nights focused on electronic music. Encouraged by both ease and price point, teenagers are swapping electric guitars for ProTools. And in April at the Isle Of Light Festival in Santo Domingo, an event that features artists from across the Latin world, the music of over half of the artists contained some kind of electronic element.

“The scene’s still in diapers,” explains Dominican beat maker Bacayne, of his country’s emerging electro fascination. “It’s underrated. We have the capability of growing and being more global.”

House music is currently king, according to a few of the musicians listed below, but a subtle shift is on the way, as the way as more artists are beginning to play with beats inspired by disco, Detroit, vaporwave, and even their dreams. From electro pop to synthwave Merengue, here are eight artists from the Dominican Republic who have mastered the machines.

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The Virtual Vaporwave Scene

猫 シ Corp.

猫 シ Corp.

From folk music in the ‘60s to hip-hop in the ‘90s, the healthiest and most enduring genres in music are the ones that have existed at the center of a larger supportive scene. Vaporwave is no different, even if its artists seldom perform live, and even if they aren’t clustered around one particular city or country. That vaporwave has flourished isn’t simply because a few pioneering acts released seminal records, but because networks of like-minded people communicate with each other, share ideas, and work together to develop the genre into the singular breed of electronic music it is today.

Yet given the notorious anonymity and reclusiveness of its musicians, the community around vaporwave operates a bit differently than other genres. After speaking with over a dozen established and emerging producers, from Golden Living Room to waterfront dining and STAQQ OVERFLO, it becomes clear that the vaporwave scene exists almost exclusively online, and that the vast majority of fans and musicians regularly keep in touch with each other via the internet. Golden Living Room, for instance, revealed that he’s in “regular contact with about 10 vaporwave-related people on a monthly basis.” The maker of such futuristic psychedelia as Post-Internet and New Nostalgia also has a wider circle of around 50 people with whom he corresponds sporadically, mostly via a combination of Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Skype.

A large number of vaporwave musicians admitted to similar digital interaction habits; 猫 シ Corp. maintains semi-regular contact with over 10 of his peers, including t e l e p a t h, 真夜中BoatingClub, Donovan Hikaru, Mindspring Memories, Luxury Elite and Vaperror.

猫 シ Corp. (the man behind [지오 프론트] v3.1 and HIRAETH) also works with as many as nine of his fellow producers on music which, like many other artists in the genre, he does by sending files back and forth via email. This creative to-ing and fro-ing means that the genre is actually far more social and communal than the popular image of “anonymous [vaporwave] craftsmen” might suggest. It indicates how, in many cases, collaboration is almost intrinsic to the production of many vaporwave releases, and to its development and staying power as a genre. And at least as important, it shows that vaporwave records are often born not from isolated individuals surfing the web alone, but out of comparatively rich social contexts and dynamics—and even out of friendships. Continue reading

Superkicks and Songwriting: Artists at the Intersection of Music and Wrestling

Sam Mickens

Sam Mickens

Ever since Gorgeous George convinced an arena’s organist to play “Pomp and Circumstance” as he walked to the ring (possibly before that, depending on which version of wrestling history you believe), professional wrestling and music have been inextricably linked. It’s hard to imagine a wrestler without theme music now, whether it’s something written specifically for them or a pre-existing song that perfectly sums up the character. Sometimes, the first note of a song—maybe even less than that—is enough to let fans know who’s about to come through the curtain. But the wrestling-and-music relationship is a two-way street. Wrestlers are still using music as part of their art, but now there’s no shortage of musicians using wrestling as part of theirs.

Whether you’re traveling to Florida for the corporate spectacle of WWE’s Wrestlemania 33 or just driving down the road to an armory or high school gym to see your local favorites, here’s a list of wrestling-inspired music to listen to on the way.

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How Software’s “Island-Sunrise” Became a Curious Cult Classic

Software

Software, 1984. L: Michael Weisser, R: Peter Mergener.

Digital-Dance is an obscure 1988 LP from the little-known (at least in America) German duo Software. Released at the time by the cult label Innovative Communication, the record is a collection of leisurely electronic instrumentals, drenched in nostalgia and indebted to ambient and downtempo soundtrack work.

Save for its urgent title track—a brisk, no-nonsense throwback to early ’80s industrial synthpop—and the closing song “Waving-Voices,” Digital-Dance is mostly dedicated to capturing one of life’s most curious phenomena: the way time seems to slow down during vacations, particularly if that vacation is in a tropical location.

Oceanic sound samples, like lapping waves or keening birds, crop up throughout the record, and Digital-Dance‘s song titles are deliberate nods to seaside scenes. Both “Sea-Gulls-Audience” and the multi-part “Oceans-Breath” incorporate mournful saxophone and dreamy synth textures, the former recalling the hazier parts of 808 State’s “Pacific.”

The album sets the mood immediately, opening with the addictive “Island-Sunrise,” which has become a vaporwave touchstone. It’s easy to see why: Thanks to a taffy-pulled tempo, the song feels like it’s suspended in deep space. Syrupy synthesized strings, 8-bit keyboard whimsy and occasional percussion sizzles—percolating woodblocks, hissing rattles, cautionary chimes—create an alluring and narcoleptic atmosphere.

And now, almost 30 years after its original release, 100% Electronica record label—home of the Australian vaporwave phenomenon S U R F I N G—is issuing a limited-edition vinyl pressing of Digital-Dance, along with a host of other Software titles, available digitally for the first time.

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