satellite cult 55.55
windows96, heaven/EXE, wegmanswave
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will blast you back to the very moment it crushed you to learn that the characters in your favorite JRPG do not exist in real life.
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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Dated New Aesthetic
starting off strong with the latest from Windows96, this album lives up to its name by twisting the producer’s signature VHS-inspired synthwave with hints of drum and bass and breakcore. even the cover features a character reminiscent of 3D entries in the Final Fantasy library, drawing the present out of retrofuturism.
this album from ＥＣＣＯＨＡＺＥ, an alias of Polish producer 魂hardware魂, pays strong homage to classic eccojam tracks in the vein of “地理” and “ECCOと悪寒ダイビング,” infusing the most classic style of vaporwave with a slushy psychedelia. its repetitive, escalating layers and long tracks are perfect for closing your eyes and gazing at the stars you’ve invented in your head.
the DreamCast and PS1 have inspired legions of breakcore and drum and bass producers who make their names on the internet, and Heaven/EXE by Dusqk, also aligns itself with another staple of this movement: the epic, ascendant sounds of crepuscular rays, technofantastic landscapes, and angelic beings rendered in anime. in fact, this album was made in part using the same samplers and synths utilized on the soundtrack of the classic science fantasy JRPG Phantasy Star Online over 20 years ago. a lot of unoriginal music permeates this space, but Heaven/EXE distinguishes itself.
Phosphorrcord Datafile Vol. 1
a compilation album composed of tracks made by members of phosphorrgirl’s Discord server, Phosphorrcord Datafile Vol. 1 offers an array of techno, sextrance, and surge, pulsing with cathartic anxiety. did i mention? the sales go towards buying eSIMs for people in Gaza. don’t wait to hit the buy button.
out on Chilean net label Medio Oriente, the latest from c678924 is an exploration of digital ecology, painting 3D clouds and lightscapes across an astral JRPG metaplane populated by crystals and creatures with armored wings. while previous c678924 releases interweave violence and aggression with the dreamy, this album leans heavily into technofantasy utopia.
this EP by MAC減衰 has a creeping quality to it. not creepy, but rather it gives the impression of sneaking around corners and ducking behind doors, flattening yourself against a wall in the shadows and narrowly avoiding detection. hardvapour with a vaportrap edge, MAC減衰 interestingly enough also tagged it seapunk—perhaps indicative that a long-overdue resurgence is finally on its way.
we all know i love a little Internet Archive journey, and i especially like checking out old fanzines, as pre-internet fan cultures laid the groundwork for how many communities would form on the web. this week, i came across the first issue of Collectors World, a fanzine for comic and sci-fi collectors from 1978. imagine my surprise when i realized the zine was published in the town where i largely grew up, and that the mailing address listed on the second page belonged to a home whose exterior i recognized. it’s very possible that the zine’s editor, someone named Tom Crawford, has long vacated the building, but there is something haunting about imagining a person sitting in his living room, flipping through a comic collection, working on a zine that i would come to read years later, all within a ten minute drive from the place where i lived as a child.
i began ruminating on locality and nostalgia, and its relationship with the retro-futuristic creative and aesthetic movements that saturate the web. vaporwave, sextrace, breakcore, and other genres i cover heavily all feature aspects of the far away. there is a conversation to be had about cultural appropriation and vaporwave (rather, the conversation has been ongoing for 15 years—you can check out this Reddit thread if you’re interested in an overview), and i do sometimes wonder why there hasn’t been more of a push towards locality. we do see glimmers of it in mallsoft offshoots like gorcerywave, or sometimes in climatewave music built around localized weather broadcasts. perhaps it has to do with vaporwave’s roots in exposing the artificialities inherent to capitalism and consumerism. there is something more emblematic about a big corporation or a yuppie in a suit than a television commercial for a local hardware store.
that said, i started looking into retro, nostalgic, local-to-me media in the vapor spirit, and came across a YouTube channel called Rochester TV Archive, which uploads (mostly) Rochester, New York-area television broadcasts from the 80s and onward, including commercial blocks, local news, sports, award shows, and long off-air programs. whoever is behind the channel has a clear passion for broadcasting and communications, and has provided an incredible time capsule that speaks not only to American culture at various given times, but also local sensibilities.
while considering climatewave, i couldn’t help but turn to this newscast about the ice storm that cut power to my family’s home 2003. i was in the third grade, and i remember bundling up in a sleeping bag on the floor of the finished part of our basement, presumably because we had a gas fireplace there. eventually, when the roads were okay, we waited out the rest of the blackout from my grandmother’s apartment after her power came back.
i had to stop myself before i got sucked into the nostalgia vortex as i began scanning each video for iconic Rochester commercials: The Stereo Shop, House of Guitars, Seabreeze, the worst pizza ever made, even the Canadian SeaWorld clone Marineland,1 which advertised heavily in upstate New York. and of course, i would never forget this one.
maybe it’s time for me to start my plunderphonics career—i could become a pioneering voice in the newly minted wegmanswave scene.
choose your own Hyrule
also found on the Internet Archive: this choose your own adventure Legend of Zelda manga from 1986, published in a magazine for second graders. it’s in Japanese, and there isn’t a scanalation as far as i can tell, but the uploader did provide a page-for-page translation on their Blogspot.
in the spirit of recalibrating satcult, i would like to ask: how do you feel about the void dive? most weeks, when i look at click-through rates, not many readers seem to be interacting with the artworks.
instead of including visual art this week, i want to use this space to ask you what you think. do you like the inclusion? would you prefer a different format? leave a comment if you feel so inclined.
in case you’re wondering, yes, they also treated their animals just as poorly.