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satellite cult 35.35
electric soldier porygon, neetcore, heckle dungeon
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will help you disassociate in the middle of a pounding missile silo rave at the exact moment your least favorite ex enters the scene. no worries, though. their brain’s a little too squiggly to notice.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs. if you’re viewing this on the website, forgive the way Substack formats some Bandcamp embeds.
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Mëmōry নীল Mįragë
a split album by Vįr+üål Åįrßñß and h º r ¡ z º n щ ¡ r e l e s s, Mëmōry নীল Mįragë is soulful, jazzy plunderphonics with touches of R&B, Muzak, and classic eccojams in all the right places.
when we talk about vaporwave, we often consider the role of nostalgia, but in concept this album captures what i consider a related but more essential element to the genre: the hazy nature of memory. can you really recall going to the mall on October 11, 1996 at the age of three, or has your mind composed a comfortable mirage using scattered fragments from many experiences that you can’t quite piece together whole? it can be hard to trust that what we know is true, and sometimes less difficult to accept the stories we invent.
while some future funk leans into bubblegum and fluff (and there’s nothing wrong with that), Kouek’s Downtown has something refreshingly melancholic about it—maybe it’s the decaying VHS distortion on “グッド・バイー 「GOOD BYE」” or the occasional bitcrushing, but instead of 90s anime pastels, we’re getting a nu-disco synthpop hybrid that tips the scales towards sky scrapers, back alleys, and a 3am stop at the only bar where the kitchen is still open.
it’s a night out on the dance floor, but also what comes in-between—those few quiet moments you get trailing behind the group en route to your third location, the opportunity to observe what the world looks like around you when half the city is asleep and other is only just waking up.
there’s not really a name for music reminiscent of the serene, flowing, synth-heavy Dire Dire Docks (Underwater Theme) from Super Mario 64, but it’s certainly a distinct style. this type of music doesn't always replicate the sound, but it reproduces the vibes perfectly, and this slushy EP by pyrate scratches that itch.
if you’re a Pokémon fan or a lost media enthusiast,1 you’re probably familiar with “Electric Soldier Porygon,”2 an episode of Pokémon that aired in Japan on December 16th, 1997, and was never broadcast anywhere again after a scene with colorful, strobing lights ended up triggering photosensitive seizures and resulted in hospital visits for hundreds of children.
the first track of Pocket Mönster’s かっこいいポリゴン, out on FOTOSHOPPE CO., is titled “The Pokémon Shock,” the name given to the incident that made the Pokémon anime take a four month hiatus. the track itself, like much of the album, is rather haunting, built from plundered and edited chiptune (possibly a pitched down and chopped up version of the Lavender Town theme?) supporting slowed, distorted news coverage of the event.
the rest of the album is hexd ambient synth slush, spooky and calming all at once, as if you’re trapped between the layers of a circuitboard, which fits—“Electric Soldier Porygon” is about going inside a computer.
༻✦cyber.unlife✦༺ ➪ ˖⁺☽ +reality_permaloss+ ☾⁺˖
these two reality bending mixes by ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ contort and twist Y2K sparkle into something pleasantly sinister, asking what it means to be a person of flesh plugged into a world of intangible information—when does your consciousness stop being your own? you don’t really have a way to know, but you can feel it in the hexd surge of ༻✦cyber.unlife✦༺ ➪ ˖⁺☽ +reality_permaloss+ ☾⁺˖ and the way it manages to unzip reality in a nightcore remix of Usher.
if you punch neetcore or hikicore into a search engine, you’re met with a long string of Tumblr blogs. both aesthetics are related, with neetcore referring to the common acronym for Not in Education, Employment, or Training, and hikicore taking its name from the phenomenon of hikikomori. in practice, those who identify with neetcore or hikicore may or may not be NEETs or hikikomori (probably most aren’t), and engage because they either feel socially isolated, or unmotivated to participate in society beyond what they can do from a computer in a bedroom. significant elements of the aesthetics are anime and manga, visual novels, niche internet communities, and bedrooms that are either cluttered with trash or neatly organized with collections of figurines and towers of books and video games.
i wrote about aesthetic as genre back in satellite cult 8.8 and chose not to cover neetcore or hikicore. they hit a little too close to home, maybe—i often feel unmotivated to engage with the world, and my interests largely overlap with the aesthetic; there’s a parallel universe i’m sure where one day, i entered my childhood bedroom and didn’t emerge for a decade.3 there’s also something unsettling to me about taking the experiences of people who don’t quite fit into society the way they think they’re supposed to, or people who have been rendered paralyzed by some combination of neurodivergency and the effects of post-capitalism, and romanticizing them. but i have covered plenty of adjacent types of music: experimental shitposting techno, 4chancore, transcel and femcel music, and a myriad of underground electronic styles that utilize the same imagery as neetcore and hikicore.
this EP, YOU DOLT!! by virus.NEET, might be the first real neetcore release i’ve come across. it bears the hallmarks of a lot of underground electronic music born online: it combines breakcore and noise, has a DIY sensibility, references Azumanga Daioh and Minecraft, and is often asynchronous, droning, and absurd. one track is just “Radio” by Alkaline Trio. the whole thing is rather scattered, but in a good way. when you get down to it, i think those of us who spend this much time online do it because we feel isolated in one way or another, or because we want to isolate ourselves from the things that exist outside. anyway. i liked this EP.
make frontend shit again
if you’re here, you also probably miss the days when people just made websites for fun. maybe you still make websites for fun. if that sounds right, check out this site by Sara Vieira. don’t forget to hit play at the top left corner.
i got curious about if the 2005 classic Kitten Cannon was still playable. the answer, surprisingly, is yes.
thank you for joining me. until next time.
unfortunately for my social capital, i’m both.
“Dennō Senshi Porygon” in Japanese—it translates literally to “Computer Warrior Porygon,” but it’s more colloquially called “Electric Soldier Porygon” in English.
of course, in this universe, my parents would never have let me live with them jobless, and would have told me to move out once i saved enough for my own place.