Discover more from Satellite Cult
satellite cult 10.10
pcore, mallsoft, 2005 redux, void dive
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will bind you in an ethernet cable coil and squeeze you until your body pops out of existence in physical reality. you will be transported into Hot Topic’s website circa 2003. it’s okay. you’ll learn to like Emily the Strange.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs.
i write and research satellite cult each week because i love it, and it’s important to me that it remains free to read and subscribe. but if you want to give altar offerings for the time and labor i invest, you can support me on Ko-fi.
if you enjoy what you find here, like, share, and consider subscribing to satellite cult.
illusion of reality
this breakcore ep by Silly Guy Sounds features moments of pattering rain and ambiance, leaning into trance more than i expected. it also brought me back to the relatively small meme music phenomenon of peniscore. i always saw the word used in reference to bad music, often intentionally bad music, but it appears that some musicians and producers are now re-appropriating the term in the same way your roommate Sock calls himself a ratboy after he says you’re abusing him by asking him to do the dishes.
i’ve written about meme music before, and in this case it doesn’t appear that peniscore has a particularly strong following or a consistent aesthetic; some music, like tracks on Illusion of Reality, falls under the same umbrella as breakcore, jungle, drum and bass, and techno. suburban hood classics, by clusterfunk, is choppy, chaotic, and sample-heavy, pulling from old Windows start-up sounds, game scores, and nightcore rap remixes. neither is very meme-like in composition, though much of the naming, imagery, and attitude is rather tongue in cheek.
other releases under the tag are mostly DIY hardcore and grindcore acts making eye-rolling attempts at edginess, and some are those 4chancore types i wrote about here.
and while different in genre, i found this single released in 2018 that perhaps captures the peniscore vibe—track one is groovy doomer bedroom pop and track two is white kid doomer rap. it’s the type of music that i really don’t want to like because it reminds me of every deadbeat DIY Brooklyn boy who’s never called one of my friends back (the musician’s bio literally just reads “kill me”), but something about how awful it is hits.
i love mallsoft, but i try not to listen to it as often as i want—i usually end up shedding a few tears for the mall as a symbol of my childhood, a bastion of an older type capitalism built upon skylights, floor plants with waxy leaves, steaming hot pretzels, and azure fountain water.
but i do turn to mallsoft when i’m sad, because it makes me a different type of sad, one that feels far away, fictional even. it’s a type of sad that can’t hurt me, bred in a tv commercial recorded over a tv commercial on deteriorating VHS.
mallsoft sometimes appears more dead than other genres in the vaporwave family, so it excited me to find this album by Supah Genesis, framed as a cassette found during the renovation of a mall.
i also appreciated this EP by VΞLOCITY Ӿ, which features chopping that replicates the experience of a radio station coming in and out of reception during a car ride. While Westfield Topanga Mall In-store Tape simulates being in a mall, Xbox Magazine Demo Disc evokes the journey there and back.
both were released on FOTOSHOPPE CO.
Strong Bad Email #58: Dragon, Trogdor the Burninator’s origin story, is 20 years old today. uploaded to Homestar Runner on January 13th, 2003, Strongbad’s dragon has been burninating the countryside for two decades, and it remains influential among a particular brand of the chronically online. like it or not, you probably have memories of watching it in the computer room at a friend’s house, or maybe in your school’s lab when the teacher wasn’t looking.
Trogdor had me considering the death of the era of viral videos, and recalling some that weren't exactly memes, but certainly were born from nerd-saturated, web-culture savvy users who lived on forums and image boards where meme culture reigned.
the humor was silly and often not particularly smart—usually reference heavy and in the vein of omg so random xD—and most were flash animations that appealed to the 11-year-olds who passed them around at school. the web was more accessible in the early aughts than in the 90s with the introduction of broadband, and even though plenty of households didn’t have computers, more did than ever before, and more schools not only housed computers within their walls, but also provided internet. it was a moment of explosion in web literacy and awareness.
Newgrounds animations like The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (2005), released by Neil Cicierega as Lemon Demon, would cross over to Youtube in the platform’s early days, finding audiences far bigger than those in their original communities. other videos by Neil Cicierega, like Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise (2007), would become emblematic.
i remember Fabulous Secret Powers (2005), better known by the title of its shorter reupload, “HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA,” sweeping the web and driving “What’s Up?” back into the mainstream consciousness.
and while plenty found it grating, it wouldn’t be right not to include Charlie the Unicorn (2005).
thank you for joining me. until next time.