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cult premonitions for 2023
the trshboy oracle speaks
welcome to a gloriously apocalyptic satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i, your intrepid cult leader, have been dubbed the Nostradamus of plunderphonics and web culture by my heavenly parent, the Muzak Guardian. it is my responsibility to deliver unto my disciples the premonitions granted to me by these great supernatural forces. trend forecasting is boring, but clairvoyance?1 that’s fun. even if my predictions don’t come true, at least we’re having a good time.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs.
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hexd has been around for a few years now. the music typically features strong bitcrushing and borrows from a host of electronic genres including techno, trance, drum and bass, breakcore, and even vaporwave. it’s really not so much a genre as a style that crosses a myriad of genres and unites them via common production elements. the seeds of the sound emerged in underground rap scenes, most notably with acts like Reptilian Club Boyz and tome the undying’s rare hexD RCB remixes.
its most emblematic attribute, bitcrushing, has also existed for decades, seen as an artifact of file compression for most of its existence rather than something for producers to keep in their tool boxes.
bitcrushing is all over the underground now, from post-vaporwave to sextrance, which means that, probably, it’s about to go mainstream.
trend cycle meltdown
i’m not even close to being the only commentator who writes about the death of the twenty year trend cycle. it’s been at the forefront of our public consciousness for at least the last five years, as Y2K revival quickly gave way to 2008 emo revival which quickly gave way to Tumblr soft grunge revival which quickly gave way to what? the return of normcore maybe?
here’s what’s already happening: there are no trends—just aesthetics. everything is a trend because of the hyper-specific personalization of algorithms on corporate-owned social platforms, most notably TikTok. do you like something? do other people like that something? are you all talking about it online and interacting with each other? are you trying to distinguish yourself from other people whose aesthetics are opposite yours? that’s it. that’s a trend.
so what’s the prediction, you ask?
it’s only a matter of time before seapunk comes back.
old web revival
old web aesthetics have persisted in popularity for over a decade, with old web meaning something a little different depending on the year of your birth. for some of us it’s the pre-dot com bubble burst dial up era of the late 90s, but for others it’s closer to the time of Myspace and Stickam. no matter which way you spin it, we’re talking either late or early web1, a time before the quality of our online interactions were dictated by corporations.
is it a coincidence that nostalgia for the internet of yore happened to coincide with web2, a stage of technological progression but ideological recession where we, the users, are also the products? i don’t think so.
over the last several years, and likely amplified in the last three by COVID and by reactions to the web3 space, people who believe in a free and open internet have been flocking to build their own spaces online, in the way they did twenty-five years ago, using tools like Neocities.
do i think this is the end of a corporate internet? no. but i think we should expect this trend to continue. people are smart, and even when platforms are literally designed to foster psychological dependence with short-form content and pretty lights, it feels like more users are waking up each day.
if you’ve been a cult disciple long enough, you may remember my sextrance exploration from a few months ago.
an emerging genre of underground electronic music that borrows from drum and bass, jungle, breakbeat, breakcore, hard trance, hexd, and experimental hyperpop, sextrance typically features heavy bitcrushing and aesthetics related to anime, gaming, and web culture. visually, it’s widely inspired by the cyberpunk aesthetics of the mid-90s and early 2000s—think Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix and Hackers— all with a strong dose of childhood nostalgia for first gen Playstation games, defunct Sega consoles, and children’s anime that blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, perhaps even as a response to more established electronic genres like future funk that draw heavily from the softer, pastel-laden aesthetics of Sailor Moon.
the scene is at least a year and a half old, maybe two, and i think that within the next year, we may see publications like I-D and Dazed, cultural magazines that tap into the underground just after it goes a little mainstream, writing up sextrance as if they discovered it.
of course, the only people to *discover* a movement are the people in it, creating and engaging. after a hard few years of music designed for the TikTok algorithm, deep into an era of genres and styles manufactured by music streaming platforms, it’s exciting to hear something that sounds so fresh, produced by a scene that gave itself its own name.
thank you for joining me. until next time.
promise i do not think i am clairvoyant this is just a bit the whole cult thing is just a bit pls don’t sue me.