Have You Heard of “Virtual Phantasy 2097”?
What were you doing in the year 2014? Yeah, 2014 may have only been 5 years ago, but for the Vaporwave community, things were very, very different.
Vinyl records in the scene were basically non-existent, death’s dynamic shroud was just beginning to make their way up the ladder, and Dream Catalogue was the go-to place artists wanted to have their albums featured on.
Talking about Dream Catalogue, there was one artist present on the label at the time, and for quite a while up until that point, that seemed to drop nothing but eventual fan favorites release after release. No need for an introduction here, yes, the elusive t e l e p a t h, at this point an already legendary figure in the scene, was undoubtedly taking over the Vaporwave community. Unsurprisingly, many artists wanted to work with him around this time, one artist in particular who went by the name of Golden Living Room. And that folks, is where we begin our story today, the story of one of t e l e p a t h ‘s many collaboration albums, and how Golden Living Room was able to make it all happen… a story showing that sometimes, all you really have to do is ask.
Get comfy my friend, because you and I are going to be exploring the legendary “Virtual Phantasy 2097” album and how it all came to be.
Back in 2014, Golden Living Room was an active artist on Bandcamp and eventually started to get likes on his tracks from t e l e p a t h himself. He also started seeing an abundant amount of people in the Vaporwave community sharing music from t e l e p a t h and constantly creating a conversation surrounding his latest releases. GLR, at the time, had a jaded attitude towards Vaporwave and states that he did not like what it was changing into compared to the genre’s original conception and recalls being very dismissive of new projects coming about in the community.
“I was very dismissive of new projects and had a very closed mind about anything new, even if it was hyped. I would listen to a few seconds of a track and then skip it, forming my opinion that way. I was in a terrible state and missed out on so much music when it was happening.” - Golden Living Room
Around the same time, GLR was also approached by Dream Catalogue to do WELCOME HOME. While working with Dream Catalogue, Golden Living Room was doing a guest mix for the label when he decided to give another try listening to this artist everyone seemed to be raving about, t e l e p a t h, and began to like what he heard. The warm quality of his tracks, all while being able to penetrate his subconscious mind, was more than inviting for GLR and he began to develop a new appreciation for the direction(s) Vaporwave was going in.
Golden Living Room decided to contact t e l e p a t h shortly after on Twitter and struck up a conversation, only to quickly cut to the chase and state that he was interested in collaborating with him. At the time, GLR knew many artists were working with t e l e p a t h so he thought it would not hurt to just ask. He was confident their sounds would mesh, and he went for it. And, as you can tell, asking really paid off.
“I was floored at how fast and effortless it was for him to add his signature ambient sound to the stems I sent. We both were working with samples at the time, so the process was very different than it is today.” - Golden Living Room
Something about the effortless flow of the album made it a perfect project for the duo, and to this day, “Virtual Phantasy 2097” is one of GLR’s favorite personal releases. The timing of contacting t e l e p a t h was right on the money and the way the whole album unfolded was effortless.
“It took little to no thinking on either one of our parts. It was more of a flow of energy that took its own course.” - Golden Living Room
The album, in classic fashion with anything t e l e p a t h happens to touch, is a dreamy, slushy, swirly intergalactic travel through the farthest of stars. At over a 70-minute listen, “Virtual Phantasy 2097” is a pretty lengthy release and features a side A primarily from t e l e p a t h and a side B primarily from Golden Living Room, with t e l e p a t h pretty much creating everything else after the addition of GLR’s already existing tracks. The two spent several more nights chatting for hours, coming up with titles and aesthetic ideas. The artwork, layout, and design of “Virtual Phantasy 2097” were all done by t e l e p a t h. He chose the cover of the album based off of the original aesthetic of Golden Living Room at the time, a very “videogamey”, insides-of-a-computer habitat. t e l e p a t h also thought of using the Sega Saturn spine for the album art, fitting for GLR as that was one of his favorite systems.
Having the chance to speak to Golden Living Room about the release, I was able to get an up-close look at his half of the album and his personal experiences making it. Golden Living Room grew up in the dawn of the MMORPG with games like Phantasy Star Online, Final Fantasy XI and many other games. He spent a notable amount of time playing these games, stating that the music from these games sank deep into the subconscious of his mind. The music was so important to him that he used to include at least one sample from Phantasy Star Online in every one of his earlier albums, all the way up to “This Is Where I Am Right Now”. This love for MMORPG soundtracks obviously bled into the creation of “Virtual Phantasy 2097”.
The track “Living Water” featuring Spring Water 泉is actually a collaboration with his friend Nate who runs Midwest Collective, stating that he (Nate) has always been a silent powerhouse in the Vaporwave scene.
The song "I Can't See At All (It's Safe)” was actually written in 2012 and was artistic therapy for Golden Living Room after he was mugged on his way home from his university’s library when he was studying music theory for his master's degree. The song "Halocline Systems" was supposed to be a track for his friend’s utopian cyberspace themed game project trilogy, but they were not ready to finish the game on the timeframe GLR was on, so Golden Living Room just decided to release it into one of his own personal projects.
What makes “Virtual Phantasy 2097” so funny from a discussion standpoint, or for that point any project t e l e p a t h gets his hands on, is that you really end up just praising each album for almost the same thing. How many times can we call a t e l e p a t h release an “amazing dreamscape” or “an out of body” experience? I think it’s pretty amazing to be an artist that conjures up a struggle for anyone to really explain what it is beyond these overused Vaporwave terms, the strange state fans find themselves in trying to discover new adjectives to properly explain the feelings one would get listening to one of these releases. “Virtual Phantasy 2097” is no different, a project that lifts you from your physical body and soars you through starry depths light years away from any of us. Any fan of ambiance and Slushwave should definitely check this album out if you have not already, prepare to take flight in a virtual, space-like world with the enormity of a thousand galaxies. And remember, as I said earlier, this album proves that if you want something, anything, all you have to do is just ask. The Vaporwave community is a very friendly place, and artists are always appreciative of anything you have to say when it comes to their music. Whether you want to pitch the idea of working with someone, provide constructive criticism to their latest release, or just simply drop on by to say hello, just asking a question may lead to a world of endless possibilities.
Golden Living Room will be featured in my upcoming musical collaboration project titled “COMBOCHAMP”. I’ve decided to take 20 beloved artists from the Vaporwave scene and randomly pair them with one another to create a track for this soon to be unforgettable album releasing on New Years Day of 2020. I, and many others, are excited to see where Golden Living Room goes with his contribution to the project.
Much love, ur boi,