Talkin bout vapourwave
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Ambient / Downtempo Discussion of music similar to Brian Eno, Sigur Rs, FSOL, The Orb, Biosphere.

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Old 16-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #1
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Talkin bout waporvave

I have been listening to a lot of vaporwave, and thinking about it a lot too. I think that it's a very interesting thing. I've also heard the terms "computergaze", "mediagaze", "mallsoft", "webwave" thrown about, amongst others.

There are a few articles floating around talking about it, and though the critical interpretation has generally copped a bit of flak from producers and fans involved in vaporwave I think that the basic premises seem pretty well understood. Here's my understanding of it anyways.

Basically it's about taking sounds that are soulless, commercial, superficial, or otherwise seem to lack true artistic integrity (whatever that really means) and imbuing them with a sense of wonder, or mystique, or haunting, or divinity, or something like that. And often it's about doing it in such a way that it brings light to hidden beauty or depth in the source material. Like take the backing track from an infomercial about stain remover, or a loop from the web lobby of a mid-to-high class seaside resort hotel, or the call waiting tune for a matress and bedding outlet, and then cut it up, pitch it down, loop bits of it, layer it over itself, pile effects on, and turn it into a more engaging version of the original.

What I like about all this is that it makes vaporwave a bit different to the type of genre that is characterised by a certain sound, bpm range, or rhythmic structure. Instead this stuff is based around a philosophy, and the sounds that one could arrive at through working from the philosophy are incredibly diverse. A lot of vaporwave is lo-fi, but a lot of it is hi-fi too. Lots of it is ambient or soundscape, some is danceable, some is noise or sound collage. Sample material can come from any era, though most often it's taken from between the 80s and the current day. Production techniques aren't restricted at all. You don't have to be sample based either - you can produce original material that is merely referential to a style or vibe or period that you wanna pastiche.

And because it's (often but not always*) about making something deep out of something shallow, and these terms are entirely interpretive and subjective, then the restrictions on what material to use and what to do with it is entirely up to your own tastes. I've heard vaporwave based on disco, corporate mood music / muzak / elevator music, childrens television themes, adult contemporary, smooth jazz and lounge music, eurotrance, video game music, etc.

*another tactic is to take something you think is amazing, but others seem to think is superficial or cheesy or whatever (or something that everyone thinks is amazing but won't admit it though they loop it over and over in their head like some cheesy sitcom intro track or something) and do something to it to bring out the amazing parts so that you can show people what you see in it. Some of that corporate produced session musician shit that plays over shopping center PAs or radio ads for sports shoes or whatever is really specifically and carefully engineered to induce emotions of calm, confidence, comfort, openness, etc, so as to influence the decisions of their shoppers. As the mood media website puts it, "we design and build experiences that stimulate sales and strengthen brand loyalty" and they pour shitloads of money into doing that. By fucking with that music you can tap into that engineered capability and fuck with the nature of the induced experiences.

Decent playlist:



The other thing is that vaporwave is very much a multimedia movement. There's a lot of visual art that goes along with it too.

Here's a visual aid:

Here's some tracks I've enjoyed:







Last edited by AsylumSeaker; 17-08-2013 at 11:13 PM..

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Old 16-08-2013, 09:24 AM   #2
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

There was a Vaporwave track with a video where people were in some kind of overtly exquisite hotel, which I remember. Happen to know what it was?

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Old 16-08-2013, 09:40 AM   #3
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

Uh, dunno.. lots of vaporwave videos seem to feature hotels.
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Old 16-08-2013, 10:15 AM   #4
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

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Old 16-08-2013, 10:51 AM   #5
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

I guess there's a hipster genre name for this sound now eh? Sad.
Anyways,



I suppose my track VOPM Cruise would also be considered Vaporwave. *shrug*

Still like the term No-Fi :3 (emboldened as it wasn't seen before)

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Originally Posted by AsylumSeaker View Post
I'm convinced that the application is meaningless and arbitrary.
Yes, that's the point.

Genre tags are only essential to the consumerist. Why not just make music and say fuck it to whoever tries to pick it apart and label it? Also, the more people get obsessed with attempting to enforce a genre standard, the more dried out that standard becomes, because people begin to say things like "Well that CAN'T be Vaporwave, because: etc." and then people try to make up new ridiculous genres based on THAT, "oh no, it's POST-vaporwave, or it's EXPERIMENTAL VAPORWAVE" fuck that!

PROGRESSIVE VAPORWAVE, VAPORSTEP, VAPORFUNK, etc.

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Anyway, no-fi is a defining philosophy of vaporwave.
Fixed.

Last edited by PROton42; 16-08-2013 at 11:49 PM..

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Old 16-08-2013, 11:26 PM   #6
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

I never fail to be surprised by the application of the term hipster to anything it's applied to. I'm convinced that the application is meaningless and arbitrary. Certainly the application of that term to things seems less constructive than the application of new terms to patterns identified in media, which is what the perfectly valid and essential use of genre tags is.
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Old 16-08-2013, 11:39 PM   #7
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

There's clearly influence from earlier lo-fi oriented artists who referenced consumer culture etc, but I don't think those artists have a monopoly on the oeuvre or have exhausted all the potential of it. Some of the stuff coming out right now is at least as interesting to me as BoC, and I've worshipped BoC as deeply as the next man. There's also influence from screw music and microloop music and lots of other places, but there's nothing wrong with being influenced, and as referentiality is key to vaporwave then there's really nothing wrong with derivation in it - it's all apart of the philosophy of it. There's more diversity in this vaporwave stuff than can warrant dismissal on the basis of it already having been done, as it really hasn't.











I think that there's as much room for lo-fi music as there is hi-fi in the world, so I'm glad people are exploring it. The idea that high fidelity is the a priori default of what music should sound like is really strange to me. I see fidelity as a dimension, it's an axis that music can sit on, and if it's always sitting at the high end of it then it's one dimensional music. I think it's sad that most people are still striving for perfect clarity and polish when the depth that muddiness and clashing frequencies and poor fidelity bring is still generally considered to be something to avoid.

Anyway, lo-fi isn't even a defining characteristic of vaporwave.

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Old 17-08-2013, 12:32 AM   #8
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

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Originally Posted by Broton42 View Post
Genre tags are only essential to the consumerist. Why not just make music and say fuck it to whoever tries to pick it apart and label it?
I don't think this is true. I think that genre tags are invented and used by people to make it possible to discuss music. It's about identifying patterns and giving them provisional labels that can be used to refer to the patterns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broton42 View Post
Also, the more people get obsessed with attempting to enforce a genre standard, the more dried out that standard becomes, because people begin to say things like "Well that CAN'T be Vaporwave, because: etc."
I never really see anybody doing that and being taken seriously except by themselves. They do no real harm. There's always pedants, but the response to pedantry shouldn't be to do away with terminology all together.

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and then people try to make up new ridiculous genres based on THAT, "oh no, it's POST-vaporwave, or it's EXPERIMENTAL VAPORWAVE" fuck that!

PROGRESSIVE VAPORWAVE, VAPORSTEP, VAPORFUNK, etc.
I think that these are all perfectly valid terms. 'Vapor' becomes an affix used to qualify the flavor of another established style. The resultant terms don't need to be dictionary solid, they only need to provide a hint and facilitate conversation.

'Progressive' is fairly meaningless, that's for sure, but there are established sounds that have that label now, so to refer to progressive music can still be a valid reference, even if the music isn't actually progressive in any objective way.

I think that "post" is the most powerful, underrated, and misunderstood item of terminology we have. To me, 'post' refers to a piece of post-genre music, or something that people can't think of a term for, but which clearly has roots in something established. Post-dubstep for example would refer to genre-transcendent music that has clear dubstep influence. You could also say post-dubstep techno or post-dubstep garage when describing articles from those genres which clearly wouldn't sound the way they do without dubstep influence, ie when the dubstep influence is a defining characteristic of those techno or garage articles. 'Post' is a very straightforward and logical affix to use in discussing something that evolves over time, like music. I'm always surprised at the flak it cops.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using genre tags, so long as they're understood to be subjective and provisional descriptors used by the audience to have a conversation about music, rather than as strict guidelines that artists need to observe (as if they ever would). There's an enormous diversity of different sounds bouncing around right now. We're well and truly in the post-genre era and I think we can benefit from more sophisticated ways to think and talk about music.
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Old 17-08-2013, 02:36 AM   #9
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

I don't have a problem with emerging new sub/microgenres, I have a problem with dumbass names like vaporwave. "Nah, man, trap is old news, I only listen to vaporwave now." Ugh. Don't these people want their music to be taken seriously?

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There is a time when the world of music opens itself up to you and you dive right into great unknowns, incredible techniques and emotionally captivating electronic music. And after that, there is stuff like Pop EDM.
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Old 17-08-2013, 02:41 AM   #10
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

Yeah, I guess they should have gone with a more sober minded and respectable name like Intelligent Dance Music.

Vaporwave is memorable, and it's a pertinent reference to vaporware. I'm fine with it.
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Old 17-08-2013, 02:42 AM   #11
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

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Old 17-08-2013, 03:07 AM   #12
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

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Originally Posted by AsylumSeaker View Post
Vaporwave is memorable, and it's a pertinent reference to vaporware.
Vaporwave is a reference to vaporwave?


EDIT: Just noticed the "r" in vaporware. Nevermind.

Last edited by Spyderbyte; 17-08-2013 at 03:10 AM.. Reason: Noticed the r

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Quote:
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There is a time when the world of music opens itself up to you and you dive right into great unknowns, incredible techniques and emotionally captivating electronic music. And after that, there is stuff like Pop EDM.
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Old 17-08-2013, 06:38 AM   #13
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

Here's where we get that hung up on genres. Honestly, I'm a huge vaporwave fan. It ties in with the cassette scene nicely, considering c v l t s has a big hand in it. Why get mad, though? These guys are making cool music for the lofi crowd, people that don't like it shouldn't invest in it. Hurray for both sides?
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:32 AM   #14
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

I don't know what's worse.. genre nazism or anti-genre nazism.
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

I think that the John Oswald influence is deeper in this stuff than the BoC influence is.

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Old 17-08-2013, 10:12 AM   #16
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

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Originally Posted by AsylumSeaker View Post
I've also heard the terms "computergaze", "mediagaze", "mallsoft", "webwave" thrown about, amongst others.
What do any of those even mean? If I attach the suffix 'gaze' to the word 'erection' does it make it a genre? Likewise with 'wave' it seems people attach anything that sounds like it fits to those two words and lo and behold a new genre is born...

And anyway the correct, British spelling would be Vapourwave :problemofficer:

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Old 17-08-2013, 10:34 AM   #17
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Re: Talkin bout vaporwave

What does rock mean? What does jazz mean? What does techno mean? Not a god damned thing in any innate sense. All that matters is that the words have currency and established significance amongst people who want to use them in conversation. This is true of any word.
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Old 17-08-2013, 10:56 AM   #18
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Re: Talkin bout vapourwave


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Old 17-08-2013, 11:15 AM   #19
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Re: Talkin bout vapourwave

Progressive nu-wavegazestepcorehop is my favourite genre.

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Old 17-08-2013, 12:21 PM   #20
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Re: Talkin bout vapourwave

Well, when I'm not listening to vaporwave I'm usually listening to intermediatemeta-fihypnogogicmumbledwordfieldrecordings.

Has anyone on this forum ever played this game before?

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