Drowned out beneath a thick, delicately placed layer of fog, すべての鳥が飛ぶわけではありません evokes a sound that pulls at a deep sense of longing, evoking a sense of hollowness using both tracks that edge between the more mournful side of classic vapor and ones that come closer to the ambient side of things. What stays consistent throughout, however, is a set of effects that make it sound as if the whole album is being played through a dense wall, making the space that it conjures feel all the smaller as everything passes by.
As the album comes to a close, the tracks exert a higher sense of dread to fill the void it created previously, the empty sound that comes from each sample bringing out a forced sort of relaxation. Paired with the darker early tracks, it almost feels like a direct attempt to sedate, as one final act to draw out what it can before the time it has to share is up.
It’s that special time of year again when the floorboards creak, black bats screech and witches cackle in the night. We’ve only a few more days before Halloween, so we’d like to share with you some notable vaporwave albums perfect for the spooky season. All of these albums are specifically vaporwave so no synthwave albums will be appearing in this list. We will also be excluding more prominent works like Skeleton or the b e g o t t e n 自杀 collection to show some love for other creators.
青い夜 By: b l u e s c r e e n
Starting off we have 青い夜 by b l u e s c r e e n, an ominous album featuring samples from Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th on the first track that are cleverly mixed into a hip-hop beat. The fearful expression on the cover art is exemplified by heavy toms and thick bass that embody your heart pounding.
▻▻is anyone even ｒｅａｌ⁇ By: never ａｎｓｗｅｒ the phone
This album from earlier this year may not be Halloween music specifically, but its suspenseful atmosphere definitely fits the season. Heavily filtered drums and samples reverberate to create a claustrophobic experience as you listen through this ceiling album.
Hallowave By: EPX90
If you want an album that hits all the Halloween tropes then this is a must-listen. Dark organs, distorted synths, wailing screams and cheesy 80s trick-or-treating PSAs make for a perfect 12 track listen on Halloween night.
[Ominous Music]: A Vaporgrave Compilation By: Various Artists
If you like having a variety of music then this album will make the perfect treat. A compilation album featuring 30 different vaporwave artists, each bringing their own style and creativity to each track.
Fall Festivals and the Satanic Panic
By: Vacation Bible School
This album is the first of a four part collection that we’ll be covering on the site in the coming days. The first album is a great introduction to this anthology with its dark mallsoft feel. Imagine walking through a giant megachurch amidst the pinnacle of the Satanic Panic of the late 80s. Samples that echo with interviews of devil worship create a dreamstate of demonic fears.
Omens By: ⁂V‡▲D‡M∇R⁂
Released just before Halloween last year, Omens presents an album full of anxious and terrifying ambient music. Heavy dissonance paired with crunchy synths will have you on edge as you listen through this album.
Even with these great releases there’s still more spooky albums out there to check out. If you feel that we’ve missed an important album or one you like please let us know on our socials! Have a happy and safe Halloween.
Anyone that frequents the Utopia District Discord server will know that I am the video game boy. I am the one who plays video games. Me. So it is with some embarrassment that I confess that I never played SimCity 2000. This is primarily because it seems really really boring. With that said, I cannot deny that from a vaporwave perspective, the game is on point. The graphics are a prime example of that 90’s management game aesthetic and some of the music in the game would easily pass as vaporwave here in the far-off year of 2021. Combined with the fact that the game is responsible for creating the city building/management game genre, it is no wonder that someone went and made an album in tribute to it.
SimCity.wave is a product of ako — real name Simeon Soden of Newcastle — and it was picked up by Halcyon Tapes, Wizard of Loneliness’ label. In ako’s own words, the album is “a celebration of world building and the iconic game SimCity 2000, as well as a homage to FM synthesis.” The album reimagines the music of the 1995 city builder — and while I am rather skeptical of the word “reimagines,” ako does a great job of producing tracks that pay homage to the original sound track while still making something that is completely his own.
As the artist seems so fond of it, I feel I owe it to the readers to explain in very simple terms what FM synthesis is. FM — which stands for frequency modulation — refers to the art of modulating soundwaves with other soundwaves. In doing so, the original sound is minutely sped up and slowed down according to the frequency of the modulating wave. Going further, you can actually modulate the modulating wave with yet another sound, and so on and so on. The result is often a retro laser beam sound effect. In the hands of a master, though, it can create some really unique sounds. The actual sound is hard to explain, but you would know it if you heard it, as it played a big part in creating the sound tracks to some of our favorite childhood computer games. I encourage you to watch a youtube video about FM synthesis as someone else (anyone else) could probably explain it a lot better than I just did.
The album kicks off with SimCity.wave I (Skyscrapers) (the tracks are listed as SimCity.wave I through IV, but they have subtitle names. From here, I will only be using the subtitle names for simplicity) and it starts things right. While the other tracks conjure up images of managing your city, “Skyscrapers” instead focuses on actually building it. One can imagine towers being constructed in a sped-up time lapse by men in yellow hard hats, thanks to the upbeat tone and faster tempo. The harmony of the song is on point thanks to heavy synth use that really utilizes that FM synthesis sound mentioned above. It makes for some really cool beats and is expertly produced.
Album Art By ako
With your city now built, it is time to start the day! It is up and running now with cars moving like ants through the streets, and only through your careful management will this metropolis thrive. That is the scene that “Tax and Money/Dawn of the City” sets. The rhythm of the song is a tad boring, however the track is saved by the synth as it busts in with a groovy solo.
Time to micromanage! This thing more or less runs itself now, but damn it, you are still the mayor and it is your duty to make this city run as efficiently as possible! The album takes a groovier tone with “Melancholic Mayor” coming in as the third track. This track is a display of amazing harmonic work, as no one sound takes center stage. The percussion, the bass, and the synth all come together to form one complete piece that is wonderfully produced. Furthermore, the song mixes itself up just enough to keep things interesting without losing that harmony that makes it special.
As the sun sets, you gaze out upon your virtual creation. It is perfect. All that’s left to do is to save and start a new game. Or summon a giant monster to destroy it. This song assumes you pick the first option. “Buildings” is a much slower-paced song than the others. It has an end-of-day feel to it, with long and hopeful sounding synth notes. There is also the cute addition of music box notes which adds to that aura of hope and fulfillment that this last track summons. The song ends rather suddenly however, which seems odd for a tune like this. One would expect such a song to have a gentle fading away of the music rather than such an abrupt end, but I suppose that one could interpret it as representing you quitting the game.
If the album’s goal was to pay homage to a classic computer game and show off what a synth can do in the hands of someone that knows how to use it, then it definitely succeeds. Each track paints a picture in the listener’s mind and brings us back to a more innocent time. I would not say that the sounds that SimCity.wave plays with are groundbreaking or astounding as much as they are cool and neat, but with that in mind, the album is absolutely worth a listen.
You can grab a copy of this cassette / VHS here from Halcyon Tapes Now!
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)