satellite cult 52.52
daylight lo-fi, ΔQVΔMΔLL, video essays
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will insert you in the middle of an 80s restaurant ad compilation where you carefully select your toppings from the salad bar of an alternate universe Sizzler. be careful—if you pick the wrong combination, you’ll be sent to the beginning of the simulation, where you’ll need to start all over again to make it back home.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs. forgive the way Substack formats some embedded media from Bandcamp.
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𝘝𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘓𝘶𝘹𝘶𝘳𝘺 𝘊𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺™
this week, we’re diving in with 𝘝𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘓𝘶𝘹𝘶𝘳𝘺 𝘊𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺™ by Argentinian artist KEYZ, whose ambient take on utopian virtual will have you feeling like you’re on hold with the resort front desk during a luxury stay circa 1994. use their business center if you need to stay connected to the office, or escape the demands of corporate life while unwinding on the sand. don’t worry. when you get back, you’ll still make that deal. your bonus awaits.
Learn The Internet
are computer skills still taught in schools, or do curriculum writers just assume kids know how to use a desktop? when i worked at the Genius Bar and took appointments with teens, it often shocked me how little they understood about using a computer, but it makes sense if no one is teaching them—the assumption seems to be that if you know how to use a smart phone or a tablet, a computer is no problem, but i sometimes found myself teaching 16-year-olds how to type on a keyboard.
i even maybe grew up a little more computer literate than many of my peers—my dad worked in IT, and we had a desktop by at least 1995,1 though i think earlier—but overall, you really hit the sweet spot when it came to technology education if you were born in the early 90s, and it wasn’t just at school. you could go to a public library and take out a how to internet VHS, or buy a program on floppy disk or CD-ROM to teach you. there is something aesthetically specific about that era, not just the tail end of the influence of Memphis, but the transition towards fonts, styles, and patterns influenced by the look of the net and emerging music spaces like grunge and the rave scene.
on this 27-track album, FOTOshoppeツ guides the listener on a learning journey set in the early era of the web, evoking a slurry of recollections that may or may not even be yours, reminding you of the simplicity and nuance of a different time, tapping in to what vaporwave was before a focus on aesthetics caused the scene to change. it is inherently a genre of memory, and Learn The Internet is memory incarnate.
i’ve been hitting dead mall videos hard lately,2 and this self-title album by ΔQVΔMΔLL, out on the mallsoft exclusive net label deadmalls, captures a different type of spacial experience than most mallsoft releases—if you’ve been paying attention to the development of the liminalcore aesthetic online over the last several years, you probably see the connections between dead malls, the backrooms, and empty indoor pools and waterparks. there is something maybe even a little post-seapunk about it, or at least adjacent to the Secret Aquarium level in Super Mario 64, which has multiple threads about it on r/LiminalSpace. liminal spaces fascinate us because they make us feel simultaneously uneasy and at peace, and when the effect of memory is also added, it ramps up the sensation.
TV2 has released a couple albums under the carpet dust alias with the collective Evening Disclosure, the last one being 2020’s junk. carpet dust is a signalwave project, though TV2 has invented a microgenre within the microgenre to describe the music’s tone: daylight lo-fi. it is conceptually the same as late night lo-fi, but instead of embodying the melancholy of solitude while watching infomercials at 3am alone, daylight lo-fi has a cousin in mallsoft and other retailwave movements; this aloneness is the aloneness of browsing the racks at a thrift store in the middle of the day because you have nothing else to do, or sitting on a park bench by yourself with a coffee that you’re waiting on to cool down. it’s the feeling of being entirely on your own but also surrounded by people in public. i can’t tell if i think it is an expression of loneliness or contentment in the solitary—in many ways these types of moments wash over you without any feeling at all except the feeling of presence. but maybe, that’s the point.
borrowing from vaportrap and even a little drum and bass, Ghostmemory’s latest, out on business casual, is a slushwave-inspired take on future funk, slower and more fluid than choppy, sparkly and sludgy all at once. ultimately, the album builds a sense of utopian virtual ambiance—it’s Lisa Frank dolphins leaping out of the too-blue water and soaring in a perfect arc over the Frutiger-Mart at the virtual plaza as perfect low-poly waves lap against the sand in the distance.
the talk of the net right now is the hbomberguy video (you know the one), and the related takedown of James Somerton by Todd in the Shadows. and while i see nothing wrong with addressing blatant plagiarism and the spread of misinformation in online creative spaces, i’ve also become so bored with breadtube—everyone is more interested in community meta and drama commentary these days. i really tried to get through the hbomberguy video, i swear.3 the fact of the matter is that it put me to sleep.
here are some recent uploads that have nothing to do with the hbomberguy video in case you need a palette cleanser, too:
STRANGE ÆONS released a sequel to her BitofEarth video, and even if, like me, you already know the saga of cult leader and menace to the internet Andrew Blake, both installments are well-worth a watch:
and if you’re feeling like something a little lighter, Lextorias breaks down the dilution of the tsundere trope in anime and how it reflects a shift away from narrative fiction and towards vibes alone:
i would have been two years old.
harder than usual, that is.
i did watch the whole Todd in the Shadows video