As the name of this “review” might send some into a spiral of rather tiresome and nonconstructive thoughts about popular music (not in any particular genre, but the kinda thing that gets put in the radio and constantly repeated would come to mind first), it shall be prefaced with this: This review has nothing to say about the commercial appeal of one genre or song over the other, or the reasons for it. The discerning listener already knows what those may be, and the vices of the industry that engender that situation to a greater or lesser degree. And a non-discerning listener might find that the topic mentioned before is too big to fit completely here. Furthermore, the same goes for the validity of transformative works. It’s a somewhat outdated debate, too broad for this space.
Some time ago, I was on a train ride with some acquaintances. I had only discovered future funk and some of the genres with similar interests a few months before, and I was completely sold on them. So much that I even tried making a song! (which, sadly, led nowhere but frustration and an unused Fruity Loops .exe). One of those acquaintances was a digital artist like me, but came from a more musical background. His dad was a musician, and his mom was a producer. And he was telling us about a new album that had come out, which reminded me of my most recent discovery, which happened to be Groovy Godzilla’s Godzilla’s Summer Vacation. I started telling him about it, and I played “Beach Vibes” from my phone for him to listen to.
Strap into the red plastic driver’s seat in this seven track race to the finish. Despite the Gameboy Advance album artwork, the sound of Twisted Metal 5 gives you the experience of playing an old arcade racer with some crunchy speakers on the cabinet. The sound of synth guitars and reverb-washed drums evoke the feeling of stumbling upon this old machine in an empty arcade. Incorporating unique effects as you speed through farms, beaches, and cities. For a blast back to times of Daytona USA and Cruisin’ games, give this album a listen.
A low level buzz heralds the start of NYX. A little glimpse of the general hue of warm feedback that follows pretty much throughout the release. There’s a sound like some unfathomably large freight train peeling out of a gnarled, gothic station; but as the atmosphere settles a similar sound emerges at a different pitch, clarifying that what we hear is a melodic sequence rather than a sound effect. The hybridization of fizzling static and muffled angelic pads was the cause of such a shocking and intense beginning, but the two aspects separate fairly swiftly. What proceeds from this point sounds something like footage from the rapture spewing from an old television set. Instead of sounding grand and palpable, the pad strings leak out of an unstable and non-grandiose set of speakers. It is almost like awakening from a dream, there was a fleeting moment that felt as though we were experiencing this strange celestial event first-hand. However as we come to understand what is being presented, we realize it claws over toward us from a tired old screen.
As if the old hardware has been on too long and found a way to connect with the spiritual plane. Needle-like euphoria pierces through the unpredictable waves of fuzz, at points the melodies even seem to push through like a hand of pure light desperately trying to permeate its shoddy, fizzling encasement. Throughout this, Zer0れい remains unafraid of leaving the listener in moments of silence. For some artists, music of this style would cause a nerve-racking pressure, where it might feel as thought the artist must always be presenting the atmosphere explicitly. This would cause an overexposure to the fascinating atmosphere. But with Zer0れい there are gaps peppered about, moments without the guiding light of the euphoric ambience, and also where the feedback ceases to spit out static as well. In these brief periods of silence, it almost feels as though your soul is recuperating after being set upon by a strange and entrancing experience.
These fleeting respites end with a reiteration of the desolate and decrepit aura that controls NYX. There is also something incredibly unique about the melodies Zer0れい utilizes. They are unrelenting tendrils that sneak past the grainy fugue; long drawling laments. When it feels as though a melodic episode has concluded, the artist finds another combination of notes to keep the sorrowful performance going. In this way the track limps at points, with breaks in feedback and melodic narrative. This serves to amplify the fragmented and heady nature of the music as a whole. At certain stages, it almost sounds like there are voices meshed into the slow-attack notes. Noises like bells can also be heard throughout, before the onslaught of melody is enveloped in waves of heavy distortion. Toward the end, a swirling pool of the euphoric ambience begins to build. The lashes of harsh feedback continue, but every time they hit they disappear, more swiftly than before, into the burgeoning sea of beautiful noise. The opening side to Zer0れい‘s NYX is truly haunting. The atmosphere submerges everything from the very start, everything happens through this heady, violent sludge. But even in such torrid audio conditions, Zer0れい sneaks in moments of pure beauty.
The narrative takes a darker turn still as we enter the second half. The same large sweeps of metallic viscera appear, but this time do not often relent in any meaningful way. Instead, gargantuan shrouds of noise crash into slowly descending whistles. The falling tones are unsettling, as if the music has buckled from the pressure and now hurtles downward like a faltering aeroplane. The feeling is one of overarching disorientation. At least the first half of NYX had a safe space in its sheepish melancholy. In this second part, the listener is completely on their own amidst screaming tunes and violent walls of muddy, metallic nothingness. Even when the melody gains a little bit more of a footing and certain notes are sent across the listener’s bow, they are completely bested and beaten down by the constant monotony of the void. Low notes begin to coo patiently against the tide, almost choral in their delivery.
At a certain point, a deep bass sound begins to enmesh itself in with the dissonance, allowing for melody to inch its way into focus without being hindered by the relentless din. Here we find a little ballast upon which to try and weather the storm; we hear muffled ghosts of notes pulse through a thick fog. After throbbing feedback, all sounds begin to falter. Only certain crackles and flickers have a volatile feel to them, the rest of what we were hearing seems to have hurtled far away from us now. This is one of the only times it seems we are able to hide away from the atmosphere Zer0れい has created. But it is in no way comforting, it feels as if we are mere yards away from this strange ghostly tower in which the noisy struggle rages on. A heavenly chorus emerges through the grayscale rage of sound, its tune bending and screeching. The conclusion to NYX is not the rapturous recalibration of light and dark that we may have hoped for. Rather the two sounds slowly simmer down and stop, the pause is so sudden that it almost feels as if it could just be another swift intermission before the roaring shrieks back in. It fills the listener with dark wonderings about the sounds, which harbored so much power and rage that they could easily burn on forever past the project’s runtime.
Zer0れい assembles defunct sounds and feedback, pitting them against each other and occasionally fusing them together. This is a fairly basic methodology. But, in NYX the artist instills an incredibly harrowing atmosphere, an incapacitating journey through a volatile and alien landscape viewed through rusted old machinery. In the first part, one might imagine a lone TV set, spewing sick light into a living room and entrancing an unaware subject with visions of angelic beauty. The second part sounds like what would be playing when the police break down the subject’s door a few weeks later, finding the apartment’s contents vaporized and the owner driven to madness by the indescribable dark energy enshrined within what was playing.
Check out the album on Aquablanca 音楽レーベル Feb. 13th
For those who might not know, Utopia District comprises quite a few former members of the Private Suite Magazine team. As such, we thought it would be interesting to share our thoughts on the magnificent and humbling release from First Class Collective; Thank You! Private Suite! Consider this not so much a review as a handful of us giving some love back for the overwhelming support the magazine received during its run, and more heart-achingly, upon its closure.
The sheer breadth and depth of this compilation is stunning and humbling. To know our work touched so many corners of our community and inspired such a beautiful album is an indescribable feeling! I can’t think of a better send-off for a project that meant so much to so many in two short years.
As it did for so many, Private Suite gave me my first home and family in vaporwave. I was encouraged and supported even as I encouraged and supported others. I’ll miss having that group of folks all in one place. But we’ll find each other again!
As someone who was first drawn to Private Suite for their coverage of lesser-known artists and smaller parts of the scene, it’s heartwarming to see this compilation full of familiar names I never would have known if not for PSM. With so many artists of different sizes, this compilation embodies one of my favorite aspects of Private Suite Media — that of inclusivity. First Class Collective is truly doing their part to keep vaporwave a welcoming artistic community.
While I wasn’t a part of the Private Suite team for a terribly long time, it was really rather heartwarming to see just how many people wanted to step up and send off a magazine that so many of us loved in style. Plus, so much of the music on the compilation is really great too!
What a thoughtful idea. Private Suite meant so many things to so many people, it’s hard to quantify the impact this compilation album will have on us as individuals. Thank you, Ethan and Zico, thank you First Class Collective. This is such a treat, especially to all those that volunteered so much of their time working to make Private Suite a cohesive and meaningful product.
This compilation album has something for everyone, from the fizzy pop melody of “sweet suite” to the Tarantino-esque “Television Scenes.” Overall slightly melancholic, perfect for fall and ushering out the wonderful publication that was Private Suite.
As a parting thought, we’d like to thank First Class Collective one more time for having the drive and the passion to make this happen. For those of us that helped make Private Suite a reality, it means more than we’ll ever truly be able to say.
GATEWAY2K X bee fanty hofuku sochi 報復措置 X AV Limited b l u e s c r e e n ʄཞąƈɬąƖ地שเรเ๏ภ X Forest Kids Collective makugaia (Outer 神殿) X Captn Croozy doktorb X mingkurray c a l d o r 32x X broken machine films Cliché64 ∆ΣTHΣR░विज्ञान X _tesseractive_
Day 2 – Monday (4th)
Potted Plant crustangel X mingkurray Fear Not ዕጣ ፈንታ X _tesseractive_ These Violent Delights Ohm-N-I X _tesseractive_ + captncroozy + OPR8R Forest Kids Collective Chichicitlalli X moirebender ⁂V‡▲D‡M∇R⁂ X _tesseractive_ Soraksan (Jeju Digital) NΔVELGΔZER$ ¡n†’l. ॐ҉ 𝕊𝕠𝕝𝕒𝕣 𝕋𝕖𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕖 X SleepPattern
Retrato, ensoñado, sin borrasca:
calma -en base a todo desconcierta-
soplando, con dureza, valles rasca;
torvas son peñas, donde faz incierta
-talla de medir cénit con tal tasca-
alega, si no máscara inserta,
rocosa, en el viaje al interior
por vía del tan dormido llanto frior.
Pretil el horizonte piramidal
-de doble tono- claro, más acuoso;
Fuentes de sal profunda, aína abisal,
que como un gran busto decoroso
traza con beldad brumas del animal
que es cielo no visible tan glorioso.
Pausa -somnífera- adueña todo:
sin tener al sol justo sobre modo.
Portrait, dreamed, without squall:
calm -perplexing in reference to it-
blowing, harsh, rips the valleys;
ugly are boulders, where semblance deceives,
-measure for the zenith in pubs yonder-
bickers, if not masks embedded,
on inward journey, jagged,
along brisk mournful paths in sleep.
The pyramid horizon is a parapet
-two tone- clear, ever so aquatic;
fountains of cavernous salt, nearly abyssal,
as a great ornate bust,
trace with beauty the mist of an animal
wich is so glorious, unseen sky.
Pause -soporific- conquers all:
without having the sun right on top manner.
Welcome to Utopia District! This is a new vaporwave art, culture, and community project. Please visit our website full details: https://utopiadistrict.com
We hope you enjoy your stay!
Hop off the light rail and take your first step into Utopia District! Join Indy, Jay and Enzo (My Pet Flamingo), and SaintCloud as they discuss the recently held FlamingoFest 2020. These four are here to take you behind the scenes of their event and tell you what they thought of each set. We discuss the future of vaporwave live events and the importance of visualists in the scene, producing vaporwave during the pandemic, Second Life, the death of malls, pirate radio days, and more!