Classics Quick Look
Written By: ≋ＡＢＹＳＳＹＡＬＬ ≋◯≋ ＳＥＡ≋
Published On: March 14th, 2022
Album released July 24, 2020
When people think about vaporwave, they often think about neon lights, busy malls, and city streets filled with rushing cars. The sounds of vaporwave often reflect our feelings about industrialism and commercialism, but this album stands polar opposite, bringing you to a secluded place outside the city limits on a small, rural farm. The name prairiewave may suggest it would fit into the somewhat obscure tumblewave genre (a vaporwave subgenre that focuses more heavily on sampling country music,) but this album is much deeper in meaning and quality than typical tumblewave albums.
According to FREECULTR.API’s album notes, the story of prairiewave is based on the artist’s memories of visiting his Ukrainian grandparents in Alberta, Canada. He describes his memories of sitting in their grandparents house with a radio constantly playing in another room as relatives visited during the day. All the songs sampled on the album are Ukrainian folk songs, lending the audio a sense of longing for a simpler farm life. FREECULTURE further stated in the album notes that tracks 1-9 comprise the moments of staying in the small town while track 10 is his reflections on the drive back home.
Most of the early tracks on this album feel like old country songs you’d hear played in a small bar until track 7, “church sunday,” which has a more mellow, almost melancholy sound. From there it returns to the familiar sounds of folk tunes for tracks “дідусевий касетофон” and “cheater” to then make a complete genre shift on the track “cross province // return home”. This track makes the most of stretched samples, thick reverb, and ethereal sound mixing to evoke the feeling of thoughts washing over on the drive back home. While the first few tracks on this album may be more simple than later tracks, they lay down the important groundwork of contrast in complexity and tonality that enrich the listening experience.
The last track is the most unique one on the album in both length and style. It is the only song to have lyrics, sung by the Ukrainian duo Mickey and Bunny, which slowly transitions into the somber sounds of crickets chirping in a grassy field under the starlit sky. FREECULTURE commented that this last song was made to show the feelings of the people who lived in the small town he visited, a much more serious reality not clouded by nostalgia.
For me, this album has a special place in my personal collection due to its vastly different approach to vaporwave. I still remember finding the album the day it came out because of its odd title and cover art. At first, I shrugged it off as some gimmick album, but after I began listening to it I realized how much love and creativity was infused into it. By the end of the day, I had probably listened through 3 times, finding more enjoyment with each listen. My favorite track would have to be the final track, “voices of the land”, because of its intense atmospheric shift to natural sounds of the land. This album is certainly worth a listen for anyone looking for something fresh or unique within the realm of vaporwave music.