The 84 Stories of Vaporwave: What is DERELICTメガタワー?
JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL TEAM AS THEY ATTEMPT TO CATALOGUE A MEGATOWER OF UNTOLD HEIGHTS. WILL YOU MAKE IT TO THE TOP???
Today, you and I are going to be dissecting death’s dynamic shroud’s 84 track behemoth known as DERELICTメガタワー.
“So my first impression of Vaporwave was a very sort of negative and it made me take this Puritan stance against sampling… The idea with DERELICTメガタワーwas that, you know, the totality of music history was this “megatower” and every generation adds to their own floor or layer of this megatower… but as we take ideas from the past and recontextualize them or sample them or whatever, like a Jenga tower we are taking pieces from the bottom and putting them on the top…” - James Webster of death’s dynamic shroud.wmv
Ask any Vaporwave fan out there, and they will tell you that nothing ever really comes close to the experience of listening to death’s dynamic shroud. Consisting of Tech Honors, James Webster, and Keith Rankin (whom many of you may recognize for running Orange Milk records as well as the incredible artwork he has done for a handful of artists), the talented trio of death’s dynamic shroud provides a diverse opportunity for production due to the fact that they can mix and match their members to create the exact mood, atmosphere, and tone they are looking to nail for a project with pinpoint accuracy. Like some trio jumping in and out of the playing field in a Marvel vs. Capcom game, death’s dynamic shroud is able to pass their projects to their partners, when one of them knows the track they are currently working on, may benefit better from the talents of another member, or maybe they just simply can't figure out what to do next and inspiration has run dry... It’s a practice that provides a great example of power in numbers, and while Heavy Black Heart is the only actual known album all 3 of the members worked on, there is without a doubt that these members use one another for advice, criticism, or even just a way to look at a track in a new light.
Did you know that Tech made 世界大戦OLYMPICS completely on his own? Or that Keith Rankin never made a solo album under the death’s dynamic shroud monicker? Or how about when James works with Tech, death’s dynamic shroud spits out something more emotionally gripping and haunting like REGRET, or on the other hand, when he works with Keith, we get something way more jarring and obnoxious, the screeching yet melodic siren of I’ll Try Living Like This.
Because of this opportunity to mix and match, death’s dynamic shroud will always provide something wonderful for anyone, and it's always fun discussing their discography with other death’s dynamic shroud fans and seeing which album is their favorite.
“My first experience with death’s dynamic shroud was seeing the album art for I’ll Try Living Like This… I fell in love with the sound that is so unique to them… I love how it seems like if they think an idea is good, they find a way to make it work… they have a way of taking a round object and putting it flawlessly through a square hole, and that’s crazy to me. ” - S h e e p (Fiction Lead and Content Creator for Private Suite Magazine)
For me, I have always been split between 4 of their albums as “my favorite”: Regret, 世界大戦OLYMPICS, I’ll Try Living Like This and DERELICTメガタワー. Obviously, all 4 are completely different from one another and that is why I do not believe I will ever truly be able to pick one. But today, we are going to be specifically focusing on DERELICTメガタワー.
“... but suddenly, Vaporwave was making video game music cool again, and so we were making these mixtapes for each other passing them back and forth and just enjoying, so my stance really changed on sampling and recontextualizing music” - James Webster of death’s dynamic shroud.wmv
Despite its massive size of 84 tracks and over 4 hours of music, death’s dynamic shroud’s 2014 release DERELICTメガタワー was created solely by one member of the trio: James Webster. Starting as a concept album for HCMJ (another one of James names to produce music under), the works were eventually transferred into the DERELICTメガタワー album for death’s dynamic shroud.
His 84 track experiment, consisting mostly of old video game samples giving themselves to James for him to control and bend at his will, represents everything Vaporwave is all about to the fullest degree. For most of these tracks, James would focus heavily on the process of recording with tape. Music was recorded onto the 4-track, and then played back into the computer at a lower reel speed. This created a warm, natural slowing and pitching of the samples as opposed to a digital simulation in a DAW.
“... So some of that snarkiness and sort of punk rock energy from that original HCMJ concept still exists in DERELICTメガタワー” - James Webster of death’s dynamic shroud.wmv
DERELICTメガタワー is simple at its core and represents the idea that you can really do anything in the scene, no matter how serious you take it or not. This is why this album is such a hub world for vapor fans out their, new and old. Just an experiment.
“84 tracks, just like the quests that I’ve never completed in most RPGs, you kind of get lost listening to this album, but luckily unlike our SNES, you can listen to this album on shuffle and still get a great experience.” - KITE0080 (Vaporwave YouTuber)
The tracks themselves would be nothing without the overpowering aesthetic behind it. I envision the tower in the artwork, some floors being more convoluted while others are mere lobbies... a resting point between two hectic spots. In a way, I also like to think of the album as having to save points. I have never listened to the album straight through and whenever I revisit it, I usually listen to it in chunks eventually pausing at a more calm or simple track among its journey. There is an amazing amount of variety between every song, rainy days and sunny days, really pushing this grand journey as you progress to the top of the megatower.
“... Dream Catalogue, which is where I really wanted to be at the time… I loved what they were doing and I was a huge fan… I felt like, well if I make a 4 hour long album and just send it to them, they won’t be able to say no! ” - James Webster of death’s dynamic shroud.wmv
And when actually glancing at the tracklist on its Bandcamp listing, that first time you stumble upon that web page and scroll down, witnessing the sheer length of songs PERFECTLY replicates the entire idea of the album in the first place... Looking up at the ever so gigantic, intimidating, dark tower in the middle of a city. You know at first glance, putting aside whether or not you will actually like the music or not, no matter what-- listening to derelict is going to be a challenge for you.
“... and, death’s dynamic shroud really lives up to their name because, if there is one way I can describe this album, it is dynamic. ” - Magdalen Rose (YouTuber)
So whether one perceives James's reasoning for the massive length of the album as unnecessary filler to stretch a narrative or actual concrete beauty building those floors (or a mix of both), the connection between the albums enormous tracklist and villainous-looking artwork undoubtedly makes you curious about the project altogether.
“... Because death’s dynamic shroud was really just a joke in the beginning about Vaporwave, not necessarily making fun of it, but Tech and I had spent almost a decade making original music and original compositions, playing in bands… so, originally, death’s dynamic shroud was a fun space for us to play around with other people’s music… taking it to its maximum extreme was something that really appealed to me at the time.” - James Webster of death’s dynamic shroud.wmv
An album this big and/or intriguing easily creates a buzz and, in my opinion, encouraging discussion is one of the most rewarding benefits an artist can achieve when making music; the idea that you can bring people together to discuss it and just have a fun time breaking it down.
If you haven’t geared up for the trek yet, I highly recommend finding the time to listen to this thing. This is not an album you have to listen to in one sitting, I actually recommend you treat it like a book and I think you’ll get the best experience that way, revisiting it whenever you’re ready to take on the long, arduous task ahead.
“... I say it doesn’t really matter… because I think everybody has a unique experience waiting for them inside the megatower” - Porter Vong (The Richest Man in Vaporwave)
Much love, ur boi, Pad Chennington.
"Also known as "Youtube's Vaporwave Valedictorian", Pad Chennington is a content creator who has created a substantial following on YouTube for his videos discussing all things Vaporwave. Starting in the Fall of 2017, Pad's videos range from reviews to breakdowns, interviews to unboxings, and much more, always revolving around odd and interesting music genres found throughout the internet. Pad has also recently released an album in February titled "CONTRAST" that is available as a free download via the My Pet Flamingo label."
Check out the album below