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satellite cult 3.3
vektroid, classic gifs, yesterweb, void dive
welcome back to another satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with this week evoke a full moon washing you in its beams, transforming you until you breathe with every pore on your skin. exalt yourself. satellite cult endorses this delicate type of hedonism.
please be aware that the void dive and blinkies sections below contain flashing gifs.
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last week i overheard a conversation between two indie trash Brooklynites at a bar. seemingly on a date, they tried to one up each other talking about local diy bands and decades old scenes; while reminiscing about the landscape of music ten years ago, they started in on vaporwave, framing it as an embarrassing moment in time we’ve all collectively moved on from. no one cool likes vaporwave anymore, right?
i don’t think either of them were ever invested in vaporwave—their touch points were all musicians featured in The Dead Mall Series.1 too trendy types love to dip their toes into a movement, mostly just for the sake of being able to say, oh, yeah. i’ve heard of that. it’s more about keeping up appearances than appreciating something. everyone’s a poseur when you get down to it.
i’m a shameless vaporwave fan. to hear them speak about the music so disparagingly made me fume. certainly there’s something to be said about the over-saturation of the genre’s aesthetics, the way time stripped the movement of its anticapitalist undertones, how so much nuance died with the rise of cheap imitators watering it down to nothing more than an antithesis to nightcore. but, thankfully, vaporwave still lives.
vaporwave's been spun into a spiderweb of sub-genres, hybrid genres, and derivatives--there’s a reason we differentiate between eccojams and mallsoft, for example--and you can still feel the ghosts of its fingerprints on new pop music.
even if people like Daniel Lopatin have mostly moved on,2 desert sand feels warm at night was wildly credited with reinvigorating the genre as we moved into the present decade, leaning into its most ambient and experimental tendencies, and key figures of the early movement still produce music. Vektroid, most famous perhaps under another of her monikers, Macintosh Plus,3 still produces vaporwave, and she pushes the boundaries of the genre further with each release. while listening to her classic Macintosh Plus album Floral Shoppe in context with her most recent Vektroid release, Fuji Grid TV II: EMX, you can experience the evolution of eccojams.
James Ferraro, whose music helped shape both vaporwave and its close cousin, hypnogogic pop, and whose Far Side Virtual was a pivotal release in the genre, might not call his music vaporwave anymore, but its legacy is evident in his most recent work.
a decade later, vaporwave has transformed. but it hasn’t gone anywhere. it’s thriving, even.
shimmery and soulful, future funk always brings me to the edge of danceable, saccharine ecstasy with its roots in disco, city pop, house, and of course its parent genre, vaporwave. 嘘つきFantasia by Eknoh neon pink, published over this past weekend, lists its release year as 1992, obviously untrue but a nice touch when it comes to committing to the aesthetic. like the best future funk, it evokes the serenity of 90s anime landscapes while balancing complex chopping, joyful drops, and a groovy bass. and it wouldn’t be future funk without that sweet sparkle SFX from the Sailor Moon transformation sequence. some future funk tries too hard to be cool, in my opinion, and i appreciate that 嘘つきFantasia is a little less California Crisis (though i do appreciate that mood) and a little more Lucky Star. it’s cute, in the least patronizing way possible.
the lead track on ｌｏｎｅｌｉｎｅｓｓ ｄｅａｔｈ, released earlier this year by non-binary love, is a bit-crushed mix of bôa’s duvet, Serial Experiments Lain’s title song. the rest of the album is also bit-crushed, borrowing elements from breakbeat and future funk and sampling from unexpected places, pulsing at some points, haunting at others. i couldn’t predict a single turn, rare for vaporwave, and felt very much the way i did the first time i listened to Floral Shoppe, though ｌｏｎｅｌｉｎｅｓｓ ｄｅａｔｈ is perhaps less epic in scope. it’s still a very worthy album to engage with, and maybe marks a recalibration of the genre away from the push towards ambiance we’ve seen in some corners, away from the push towards pop in others. a little plunderphonics really goes a long way.
while I never felt such emotion™ by ACTIVE PRESENCE is tagged as future funk on Bandcamp, it certainly has more in common with early James Ferraro in some respects, and Windows96 in others. making generous use of the sounds of vintage games, it’s almost refreshing to hear something so inspired by the aesthetics of the 80s and early 90s in this landscape of y2k nostalgia. I never felt such emotion™ is discordant and tension-filled to dreamy and ethereal effects. i always thought one of the true revelations of vaporwave was the way it invents harmony and elegance from dissonance. it really has been a long while since i felt like this.
DΛRKNΣSS has given us several releases this year, the most well know probably being magician whisper. i include it here because it’s tagged, among other things, as post-vaporwave, and any movement in music worth your attention has a post- progression, too. post-vaporwave is a growing iteration of the genre, though with so many manifestations to begin with, it’s difficult to categorize what actually constitutes a post-vaporwave movement. to me, magician whisper evokes barber beats more than anything, a category within vaporwave named after haircuts for men, who typified the darker and more ambient sound present on DΛRKNΣSS.
speaking of barber beats, haircuts for men released new music last week4. like i said, vaporwave lives.
Tumblr user gearspear found a CD-ROM packed with 22,000 gifs.
they dumped the contents into a Google Drive folder here.
speaking of Tumblr, blinkies have enjoyed a moment there over the past six months or so, thanks in large part to blinkies.cafe, the blinkie generator and archive that celebrated its first birthday recently.
blinkies.cafe is part of The Yesterweb webring, and if you yearn for the decentralized and diy days of web1, before the internet was snatched up into the palms of big corporations, you might like some of the zines and manifestos hosted there.
a return to the ethos of web1 on a large scale may not be particularly realistic given how dramatically technology, culture, politics, and the mechanisms of capitalism have changed over the past 30 years, but there’s certainly been a renewed interest recently, from multiple ends, in unraveling the commodification of the internet and restoring it as a forum for connection, community building, and creation. i admire the Yesterweb types and even count myself among them—i admit that i hold web1 on a pedestal for reasons related both to politics and nostalgia. contemporary attempts to decentralize the web through new technologies have been largely corrupted by capitalists and corporations. maybe i should just buy a flip phone.
thank you for joining me. until next time.
i love dead malls
it’s debatable if Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol 1 is a vaporwave album proper or proto-vaporwave; either way it was seminal.
リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー (Lisa Frank 420/Modern Computing) remains the most recognizable vaporwave song to the general public thanks to memes and Vine (never forget).