VAPORWAVE IS NOT DEAD | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 30, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 30, 2017

VAPORWAVE IS NOT DEAD

As I put Blank Banshee's seminal album on for the first time, something echoed back to me and kept on doing so, till the album had stopped playing indefinitely. It was a feeling of nostalgia, gushing through a sense of melancholic unfamiliarity. I could easily argue that Blank Banshee 0 is a Progressive Trans record, however, there's this one sound clip right at the beginning which keeps me from doing so. The five second melodic sound bit of “You've Got Mail!” kept echoing back to me.

This feeling of nostalgia, evoked through samples and SoundBits from the ‘80s and decades onward, is one of the defining traits of Vaporwave artists.

Take seven minutes out of your day and find yourself searching for MACINTOSH PLUS 420 on YouTube. Press play on the first thing that shows up. This song catapulted Vaporwave into the mainstream. However, the laid back rhythm found on the track, owes most of the credit to Diana Ross’ It's Your Move; an R&B track released way back in 1984 for it is essentially just the original but slowed down.

The song perfectly captures the essence of what Vaporwave music tries to tug at. The calming exposure to one's psyche—“It's all in your head” shuffling in and out of our conscious mind encapsulates us within its transience. The song is perhaps aware of how unapologetically intrusive it is, yet with grooves so calming and melodies so airy, how can anyone say no?

Vaporwave is the unfiltered look at the filtered stasis of our being, through the looking glass of meme dome and hypnotic rhythms. After Macintosh Plus's 420, there was Dat Boi by Vantage; transcending the boundary which was, the world of memes and the world of hypnagogic pop music.

Adam Neely defined Vaporwave as a counter cultural musical and art movement that alternatively critiques and embraces consumer capitalism. When I first heard him say this I unknowingly thought of Saint Pepsi.

Ryan DeRobertis - pseudonym: Skylar Spence and Saint Pepsi (former); samples in early ‘80s disco while smoothly incorporating hypnagogic elements of pop in his music. Private Caller, undoubtedly his most famous song, is meant to take the listener on a smooth roller coaster ride through the yester years and back. He stands out from the crowd for his music, is a showcase of soulful dance grooves as opposed to using psychedelic effects that other Vaporwave artists such as 2814, Hong Kong Express, James Ferraro built a style out of.

This balance, of mixing ‘80s and ‘90s R&B, Disco, Pop music while still retaining the nostalgia and vibe, conceived within the music made within that time period, is something Macintosh Plus's album Floral Shoppe got just right and in turn helped to shape dare I say, the A E S T H E T I C  appeal of Vaporwave. Each song, one after the other, cycles through musical time periods of the last 4 decades without ever becoming obnoxious in rhythmic complexity and harmonic flavor.

And while, Vaporwave is more meme than music now, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's not meant to be taken seriously, not meant to provoke our senses but to only tingle at our softer and happier sides. So if you'll excuse me I'm going to put on, Enjoy Yourself by Saint Pepsi and keep on believing that Vaporwave is alive and well.

Asif Ayon's favourite colour is a particular shade of ash but he tells everyone that it’s blue. The alliteration in his name bothers him a lot too. To inquire more about what else keeps him up at night, hit him up at asifayon@live.com

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