Constructed with seamless loops and a love for the classic compositions of early vaporwave, Valet Girls’ “…Is This It?” manages to evoke a sound that feels both longing and haunting in its tone. With a mixture of subtly crushed vocals and impeccably selected chorus sections for its structure, Valet Girls manages to add another compelling addition to the recent string of releases within the second renaissance of classic vapor.
The sample selections are diverse, but are edited in a way that seamlessly connects them. Furthermore, the ways in which they are cut harken back to simpler, bridge and chorus based compositions from earlier years. However, there’s still a wide selection of sounds explored, from the simpler loop and bridge structure of “bedroom-colored glasses” to the more eccojams-reminiscent reverberation utilized within “underground pop civilization”.
Wrung of their bass and left to dry in idle wind, the sounds used to construct Ghosts In Long Halls are strung together in a way which elicits an atmosphere that is simultaneously haunting, yet inviting. To contrast with this, an air of hesitation is brought out every few tracks through the usage of piano-based samples, the more simplistic nature of the instrumentation within them allowing each individual note to slowly guide the listener along their journey through the piece.
The atmosphere builds and releases between these periods, the tension subtle enough that even a single ripple within the sound is enough to feel like a massive change. The tone leans towards almost ambient at its most relaxing points, managing to just barely dip its hand into such a style of sound before pulling back out, returning to a more focused setting soon after. From this, it manages to carry the best of both worlds, likely to please both fans of classic and ambient vapor alike.
Created by combining the sampling choices and ethos of a climatewave album with the type of production that one would find most commonly in a slush piece, Atmosphere Absorbency manages to create an interesting and fresh sound by combining two styles that listeners will find familiar enough to quickly ease into. While the tracks themselves are longer than one might expect coming from other weather-related albums, the use of phaser-based techniques and effects combined with rough distortion help keep the tunes relaxing, yet driving in their pace.
The image of sprawling clouds and endless skies only become more vivid as notes overlap and bleed over each other, another layer within the use of its effects that helps enhance the album’s soundscape. As notes rise and fall, it allows the sampled pieces to feel fluid and dynamic despite their repetition, allowing what is effectively a smaller segment of music to sprawl on and be expanded upon without ever feeling as if it is becoming stale. Fans of signalwave, slushwave, and experimentation between styles of vapor will certainly enjoy this.
Similar in its sound to many of the litany of aliases that DMT Tapes head Vito James has stashed under his belt, Pleasure of Conformity contains a choice selection of loops paired with a heavy use of distortion techniques, making the sound feel as if it were crushed on the roughest, toughest setting of an extra dull blender. This sort of sound is exceedingly rough in the most charming ways, its use helping to bring out a heavy rumbling from the background riffs used in each track to add a deep warmth to each track. While the use of these distortion techniques occasionally borders on drowning out more interesting parts of the samples used, the arrangement of each track is skilled enough to create loops that feel seamless.
The effects applied also help the vocals sound haunting in the most perfect manner, harkening back to earlier techniques of vapor that brought out a haunting drawl from every word spoken. Anyone unfamiliar with the sound of this artist’s projects should check this album out, as his style and approach towards music is certainly experimental at the very least.
Similar in prose to the more exuberant, rhythm-driven ethos of mid-2010s vapor, Sunsets is a short run of tracks that run akin to the type of sound that 猫 シ Corp. (Cat System Corp) presented in the earlier stages of his career. Each track is filled with bustling energy created by well-cut loops, the sources primarily seeming to be from uptempo funk and disco tracks. By using this style of composition, Paradise of Yesterday manages to evoke both nostalgia for the era of the samples and the time in which albums of this style were more prominently released.
The samples picked to build this short experience feel both cohesive and tonally similar enough to deliver an experience which focuses much more on the sound of the music itself rather than building a story or scenario, an aspect that also feels reminiscent of these older pieces. Overall, this album is excellent for those looking to get a hit of the older sound paired with a more modern sense of production. Its cleaner cuts and slightly longer track durations allow it to focus on really working out the meat from the samples used.
A collection of mellow loops, just occasionally dipping into more driving beats to add to the atmosphere. Each track is composed from an excellent selection of hold music, waiting room tunes, and general jingles that are often present within climatewave albums. A heavy layer of static on each track emphasizes this, allowing the listener to sink into the piece and make it feel more cohesive as a result.
As with many releases in its style, Morning Appointment manages to keep itself fresh by having a short runtime, only clocking in with slightly over twenty minutes of music. This allows each track to feel distinct, along with the short, radio-style vocal clips that tend to accompany the longer ones. Overall, the album is very solid, making up for the presence of many others using the same themes by making excellent choice of samples to construct its sounds.
Lit up with a heavy layer of static and simple tunes illuminating its foreground, Forgotten Signals presents a collection of tunes that feel extremely relaxing to listen to. Just a single track is enough to make one lean back into their chair and shut their eyes, a broad scape of stars flashing through their eyes as they drift across an endless, blue sky. While the compositions aren’t complex, they manage to squeeze every last bit of emotion out of the segments chosen to build the EP, creating a scene that feels wistful, yet content at the same time.
A short, repetitive signalwave-style section drags the listener back in halfway through, reminding them to wake back up for more tracks that are to come. Each one manages to feel unique from the last while still having the same sort of downtempo, laid-back mood, helped by the backing of cassette static littering the background. As a whole, it serves as an excellent quick listen and a nice EP to wind down the day with. Check it out if you have the time.
For each of us, there is an album of noticeably lower notoriety within the community which we cherish closely and revisit sparingly, only to find ourselves learning more about how much there is to it each time. From these pieces, we remind ourselves about just what makes vapor special, both in the design of its sound and the ways it evokes emotion from us. On just about every level, both Kevin and 사치CORP (Luxury Corp) strike each note that one could want from such an album in a different way, delivering a strong sense of isolation and loneliness that grows into hope through a minimal set of tools.
Just from the beginning two tracks, it can be very easy for the listener to find themselves questioning whether the album is even truly sampled at all, as the integration of very simple riffs and chords create an environment in which everything seems wholly original. There are clearly sampled vocal sections over top of certain tracks which may break this illusion, though they are mixed into the environment well enough that they end up adding to it in their own way.
Sonically, the two sides of 海で孤立した are very distinct from each other, each artist presenting a different vision of an endless ocean within their mind. The texture presented on the first side from Kevin, for example, makes heavier use of rougher sound texture, almost making the instruments being played sound of low, cheap fidelity. From this however, the notes also drawl along perfectly to create a sense of dread, easing the listener along as if they were cast to sea with only the ocean to greet their vision for miles.
Notes also bleed into each other because of these effects, creating a fluid journey in which one can relax despite all the turmoil about them, an odd sense of peace coming from the clash of both chaos and the calmness which isolation brings. The ambience is perfectly mixed into the background to add to this effect, the crashing of waves idle enough that the listener may only hear it once they truly find themselves easing into the environment that is presented.
On the opposite side, 사치CORP presents a much more traditionally composed section of ambient vapor, the notes muddied into each other, but not crushed to bits by the effects being used. From this, the calmness of the ocean is drawn out much more than the previous chaos, a feeling that is only heightened by the general sense of dread presented through some of Kevin’s compositions.
In addition to this, the range of moods presented on this side of the album is much more diverse. While the beginning half is much more somber and reflective, the latter half of the album uses its positioning to create a much more impactful climax by growing in hopefulness towards the end. All of the work put into this slow crawl comes to a climax in “Questions For A Masochist,” in which the music explodes into a percussive, energetic beat before fading out as quickly as it came.
Overall, these artists meshed very well together in creating an album, the tonal consistency of Kevin’s work matched by the more explosive and varied pieces that were brought to the table by 사치CORP. With a shorter runtime and list of songs, there is not one that quite stands out as being of significantly lower quality than the rest, with each of them serving their purpose in building a full mood.
While this was touched on somewhat in the previous section, it is important to look at how well this album manages to evoke its scene through using each of its elements. While many artists may have chosen in this situation to create unease within their listener through use of the backing ambience, only the calmer sounds of the ocean are present there; instead, such emotions are created solely through the music that is laid perfectly over top.
Keeping the melody more central in this way allows a much more pleasant listening experience, as the focus is on the music rather than the more directly sampled sounds, with the rolling of ocean waves providing a context rather than a focal point for the creation of a mood. Since these sounds are constant in tone as well, it becomes much less obvious once they disappear, creating a fluid transition into the last two tracks without taking away the focus of the listener once the music itself takes the stage fully.
The choice of mostly classical and piano compositions as sources for building the world around the album was excellent, as well, the simplicity of each tone hammering in the sense of isolation with both punchiness, when the notes are struck, and seamlessness as they fade into the background and their fellow notes.
Listened from front to back, 海で孤立した provides a succinct yet full-bodied experience for any of those who are looking to dive into the more directly expressive side of ambient vapor. Clocking in at only a little over 20 minutes long, meaty yet minimal compositions give the listener an experience comparable to an album three times its length.
If you are a fan of albums with themes that evoke the ocean, isolation, loneliness, dread, or you generally find yourself looking for a more relaxing experience from your vapor, you will certainly enjoy this one.
With multiple releases under their belt and a surge of popularity since the release of 2018’s 都市のバマー (City Bomber), P U D E R P O L L I has been consistently releasing collections of short, driving vapor tracks since 2016. Their newest release, 마음과릴, offers more of this exact type of music with a collection of classic-style tracks that manage to explore a wide variety of moods and tones. From instrumentation to the emotion drawn from the sound itself, the only constant that seems to be kept throughout is an undeniable urge to groove that comes from listening to each one.
Even at its most wistful, such as the opening and closing tracks, the percussion draws a bob of the head from any listener with a predictable structure within the loops used to allow a consistent rhythm. Overall, these aspects make for a killer combo when combined with the shorter runtime of 마음과릴. Unless someone’s laser-focused on waiting for the end of it to pass by, they’re just as likely to accidentally spin the whole thing again as they would be to move on.
Anyone who has listened to a desert sand album in recent years will go in knowing what to expect from this one. His style of longform, phaser-heavy, high reverb tracks made with chop work stands near superior to pretty much any other artist in the business of slush style vapor. Over the last few years especially, there’s been a resurgence of new artists attempting to recreate this heavily enjoyed style and finding moderate success, though very few of them manage to pull it off to this level.
The only complaint that can be given is that the first track catches the listener somewhat off guard, the ambience-heavy track almost seeming to suggest a more minimal, relaxed album similar to the Seikomart duology or his split with M y s t e r yミステリー (Mystery). However, the album itself is much more upbeat and driving in its usage of samples, something that might surprise someone coming to his work for the first time after hearing the intro.
Favorite Track:夜の街をさまよう／シミュレーション仮説 (Wander the night city / simulation hypothesis)