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satellite cult 7.7
trans edgelord music, gay webcore, digital permanence
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will nudge you over an edge you’ve deliberated plummeting from for weeks and into a swirling vortex of electrons and HTML. Relax as it spits you out into a void; the only object visible for lightyears in your new eternity will be a VR pod game ripped from a 90s arcade, beckoning you to sit down and strap in, asking you to accept it as a replacement for your consciousness. in return it will reveal the secrets of the universe.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs.
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STANDARD-DEFINITION | 04
20ヤードSPRINT is the alternative alias of plunderphonics producer scarecrow_, and acts as a repository for music that doesn't quite fit with other work released under the original moniker.
leaning into hardvapour and vaporglitch, STANDARD-DEFINITION evokes a virtual space age and brings to mind the soundtracks of PC-98 games. a ghostly broadcast from across the planets and stars, the transmission comes from the comms lab of some enormous space galleon, drifting further and further into a freezing abyss.
not for the faint of heart (or maybe especially for the faint of heart), Hospitality by random_wave_dialogue.flp flows expertly from one moment to another, a journey in ambience, anxiety, and relief. this dreamy, hypnagogic, Muzak-sampling EP serves layer after layer of sound, like a weighted blanket draping the listener in a desolate warmth before the end.
evil pacman stole my fucking warpedwater damaged maractus card
one part sonic shitposting, one part ambient, vapor-influenced noise, this release by Maractuss speaks aesthetically to a culture so common on the chans and private Discord servers. the EP's concept is absurd--Pacman steals a warped and water damaged Pokémon card from the narrator, whose inner demon gets released in response. i love it. but it made me consider the place of dank meme culture and dark post-irony in underground music.
this isn't anything sudden--shitpost music has existed for as long as shitposting has, and since perhaps 2016, it's become increasingly commonplace.1 an outdated carryover from the Gamergate era, edgelordness has returned with a vengence, perhaps in response to growing cultures of earnestness in other online spaces. in general, it feels like people are more nihilistic and cynical now than they were in 2014; honestly, i am too. and the new edgelords aren’t the fedora-wearing, katana-owning achetypes of cishet men who fuck body pillows and say m’lady when opening doors. that's so ten years ago. a lot of them are chronically online trans people2 who love anime and gaming, who mine these mediums for gender and replace lacking IRL community with the internet, who project something more akin to the Sex Pistols' brand of commercial punk ambivalence than anything particularly malicious, even when offensive.3 in that sense, i experience a certain kinship. i’m like if whatever’s happening here came of age on Tumblr instead of on /lgbt/ or /mu/.4 and as someone who engages with underground web spaces, who likes certain types of anime and games, who has been there when it comes to isoltion, with using online spaces to find community, i kind of don't hate it (at least unless it becomes racist).
more indicative of this moment in culture than the album is who released it. Cum Jar Records is an online music label that primarily deals in shitposting. in terms of genre, it publishes experimental electronic music, ranging from vaporwave to DIY hyperpop to noise. it’s hard to say exactly how many of these producers and musicians are trans using publicly available information, but based on some Twitter lurking, it seems that transness isn’t uncommon in this scene. exploring the label, you’ll find self-deprecating humor, peepeepoopoo cum jokes, and an album cover that’s just a screenshot from a Whang! video—i can’t help but wonder if the cum jar referenced is the cum jar, the one from 4chan with the My Little Pony figurine inside.
the whole idea seems to be about building the worst record label possible, but in the best way, not even so bad its good, but something bad and also good simultaneously. it’s all a joke, but then you hit the sad parts and suddenly everything becomes terrifyingly real. even if you don’t find value in the music or even if you don’t think the joke is funny, it’s still a fascinating rabbit hole. it made me feel something. isn’t that what matters?
a favorite Tumblr of mine is Gay Webcore Nostalgia. active since 2021, the sideblog by cualiteabag documents old web graphics, sites, and other artifacts relating to queer people from mostly the y2k era.
on the topic of Tumblr, a post by 50shad3s0fgay found its way to my dash this week, introducing me to Lez1234.com, an old web style forum for lesbians (trans inclusive) with a cool design and spaces to talk about retro tech and old web, art, anime, movies, and music. as of right now, there aren’t many users, but if you’re a lesbian and you read my newsletter, the vibe here might be right for you.
we’re having a Tumblr moment this week. this post came across my dash recently and made me stop scrolling:
i found fallacy here; the idea that because “nothing in the digital age is permanent, we are losing physicality and thus part of ourselves” is presented as fact, even though there isn’t any clear cause and effect in this statement. with no evidence to support why, and no other context, i need to ask—is it because this poster just learned what data rot is? or did they just forget to back up their iCloud photo library? are we really losing physicality when there’s a whole world out there? when you get down to it, the phenomenon of permanence and impermanence isn’t unique to online media—look at the state of film. it’s estimated that a vast majority of American cinema is lost to time due to film degradation and film vault fires. physicality guarantees nothing.
the problem isn’t the intersection of the digital and real worlds, but rather the fact that corporations mine your data and control what platforms (and therefore which media) gets to live and die. like most things, the problem isn’t the development of technology, but rather neoliberal capitalism and systems of oppression. but maybe, i’m wrong.
if you have any thoughts about this, you can email me at email@example.com, and i’ll send out a special newsletter with your responses. make sure to write digital age permanence opinion in the subject line, and include how you want me to write your name or handle when i publish.
thank you for joining me. until next time.
maybe the most well-known examples are the Sadboy Sheldon albums, if only because of the controversy they caused when she later became sewerslvt and people realized she titled an album after a racial slur.
there have been people like this online for ages who aren’t cishet men, but it feels like the proportions are shifting.
i did need to listen to a single released on the label to make sure the lyrics didn’t endorse white supremacy, and I still couldn’t make out what was being said after several tries—it seems like probably not, but just in case, take my write up with a grain of salt.
a future topic maybe: how Tumblr and 4chan are opposite but the same? we’re all degens when you get down to it—just in different ways.