One of my favorite things I believe you can experience with music is listening to an artist who presents an album with solid world building. Albums that have an ability to bring you to a certain setting or scenario through unique sound design and thought-provoking artwork.
And I’ve gone through some really interesting projects on my YouTube channel that do such a great job at practicing this, mixing artwork and aesthetic with sound to take you on some sort’ve journey or bring you to a specific place, fiction or nonfiction…. The dark-ambient and 4-track drone piece known as TOWERS and it’s dystopian world of never ending skyscrapers painting the dead of night, the 2014 classic from death’s dynamic shroud, “VIRTUAL UTOPIA EXPERIENCE”, and it’s massive terrains of 3D-rendered adventures that pushed the boundaries of what Vaporwave even meant at the time, or how about the audio simulation of a real world disaster coming to life before your very ears, the horrors of the 9 . 0水面下Megathrust album?
So today, I want to explore another pair of albums with you that, in my opinion, perform some of the very best musical world building you can find throughout the internet.
Stimulating, mesmerizing, chaotic and ice cold… let’s go back to the year 2017 and say hello to the experimental, or post-Vaporwave project if you want to even call it that, Electric Specter 電妖怪... an artist that would deliver pure audio frostbite to your ears and bones... A chilling experience from start to end… A trip to the coldest corners of the universe through sound and artwork. Let’s dive in.
On April 28th, 2017, the first ever upload on the Geometric Lullaby label would come to be: a pretty quick and to the point 11-track release called Arctic Circuitry from an artist who went by the name Electric Specter 電妖怪.
Declaring itself as an Arctic Hypnagogic Vaporwave 冬休み (Winter Vacation) according to it’s Bandcamp description, Arctic Circuitry would soon find a home as a favorite for many Vaporwave fans due to its frantic sound layering that hammered home this concept of just being ice cold. It’s a unique experience with manic tendencies, from the anxious sounds of the tracks themselves to the glitchy and chaotic artwork of the album cover. This combination of sound and artwork go hand-in-hand to drop you into this apocalyptic world with that opening track, “Glacial Existence”. Your ears get about a solid minute and a half to prepare itself for the audio blizzard that’s about to be, soon slamming right into track 2 “Holographic Snowfall”. Frigid winds on top of a jumble of galloping sounds emulate what it would be like if your ears can drink a glass of ice cold water after chewing a piece of super minty gum. The next three tracks all do the same, they pancake on top of one another to become this frenzied sled race, until we get a nice little break with the airy and lonely “Motherboard Father Winter” right at the center of the album at track 6. Your ears deserve a rest from the bombardment that is the first couple of tracks on here, and as you can guess, we go right back into the storm once this track fizzles and echoes out. “Crystalline Surf” and “Psychosomatic Snowflakes” deliver that 1,2 punch, don’t be surprised if you’re left with a little bit of brain freeze after this one. “Frosty Midnight Encryption” follows this combo up with another quaint, pretty tried and true Classic Vaporwave formula to sort’ve warm you up a bit before braving one of the wildest tracks on here, “Death and Chill”. The sample selection Electric Specter 電妖怪plays with on this album does such a great job at warping you into this unfathomable tundra. Imagine blinking, and then next second, opening your eyes to find yourself frozen in that ice puzzle cage thing from Super Mario 64. Except the textures of everything around you have become fully corrupt, glitching into shapes and sights your eyes can’t comprehend… that is literally Arctic Circuitry in a nutshell.
The album concludes with “Final Freeze”, a return to another simple, Classic-Vaporwave sounding tune. It’s tracks like this and “Frosty Midnight Encryption” on here that, despite being not as chaotic as a majority of the other tracks, still contain that ability to deliver a winter-like trip due to it’s cool and crisp sample choices sharing the floor with some additional sound effects at times.
This wide range of intensity that never wanders off from the concept of numbing coldness it’s constantly attempting to crush is what makes this album so hypnotic and drawing. As mentioned earlier and pretty much the reason why I’m making this video, I love discussing and sharing albums on here that do such a great job in providing a world built through the sounds and artwork of the album. That initial judgement one can have from the cover of Arctic Circuitry, though subjective for all of us of course, is hard to dismiss as anything other than jolting to say the least—This skeleton... seemingly meeting it’s fate by glitching into oblivion... all on top of a corrupted color palette of pure, biting coldness.
The Bandcamp description for the album goes as follows:
“all of the happiness and love that was going through all the Penguins even though they knew everything was going to come to a close... But even so those Penguins were happy, this was many people's childhood's and seeing it go like that could bring anybody into tears. I can say that it's a lot more than just some PC game it's a life it's Happiness”
This text is then followed by “Take Care” in Japanese alongside a string of Binary Code, which when translated to text just comes out to be this seemingly random bundle of symbols and characters.
Personally, I know nothing about binary code or anything like that so I just immediately assumed I wasn’t using the right translating tool or something, so I actually reached out to the Club Chennington Discord to see if anyone knew how to possibly translate this thing into whatever it was meant to reveal itself as. Some good folks over there went to work and tried giving it a go but it seems that the code is an incomplete binary string, so we really aren’t sure what this is meant to be. Perhaps there’s some more code out there that can help us understand what’s going on here… who knows. The second and final release by Electric Specter 電妖怪, Cosmic Creator, also has some binary code on the Bandcamp listing as well but you’ll soon see why that code doesn’t help at all either.
The same day Arctic Circuitry was released on Geometric Lullaby, another fan-favorite label in the online music scene, Business Casual, would drop a limited edition cassette of the album at a run of 75 copies only. And even though the cassettes would soon sell out, Electric Specter 電妖 怪 would quickly return with a follow up release to Arctic Circuitry for fans right before 2017 came to a close. This time, even crazier and punchier than before.
On December 1st of 2017, Electric Specter 電妖怪 would return to the online music realm with the beyond action-packed Cosmic Creator, an album that features a higher quantity of songs at shorter run times when compared to Arctic Circuitry. This move creates even more contrast between tracks and I feel does an even better job at delivering a truly mind-numbing experience by sculpting these songs into a more jagged, rapid-fire build.
Similar to Arctic Circuitry,Cosmic Creator gives you a bit of prep time with the first track “Snow Angel”, echoing vocal chops on top of glistening, delicate beams of sound all give you that chance to adjust yourself to the colder climate ahead of you. And, just like the transition between track 1 and track 2 of Arctic Circuitry, Cosmic Creator explodes into it’s high-speed world with the second track “Polar Magnetic”. Tracks like this, “Pixelated Igloo”, “Emulated Wormhole Metropolis”, “Stardust Factory”, and the insane finale of “Create Me, Baby” all provide some of the most gargantuan moments within the entire Electric Specter 電妖怪 universe. The album still pays respects to those much needed rest stop moments with the quick 34-second “Snowman Consciousness” and the ethereal and euphoric “Cloud Glitch” for example, but there is a brutal ruthlessness on this album that just makes it feel that much more overwhelming than the first Electric Specter 電妖怪 drop. 20 dangerous and electrifying tracks that can be used to awaken the mind in a way that, for me, a hot cup of coffee can’t even come close to.
On the Bandcamp page for Cosmic Creator, we’re given some dialogue that really doesn’t seem to correlate with the previous description on the first Electric Specter 電妖怪 album:
"Ha, ha, ha. I definitely feel you. I just was like... idk I contemplate the universe and how it works... A LOT. Pretty sure I told you my biggest passion is learning. Been meditating a lot and exploring my spirituality for the past 5 years. So... the life and death cycle is something I've thought about.... a lot. Ha, ha. When it comes up in conversation my "mouth" (in quote because I'm typing) just kind of responds reflexively. Ha, ha, ha. I definitely feel you. I just was like... idk I contemplate the universe and how it works... A LOT. Pretty sure I told you my biggest passion is learning. Been meditating a lot and exploring my spirituality for the past 5 years. So... the life and death cycle is something I've thought about.... a lot. Ha, ha. When it comes up in conversation my "mouth" (in quote because I'm typing) just kind of responds reflexively."
Whatever it’s going for, if anything, just adds onto the schizophrenic nature of the Electric Specter 電妖怪 style. Perhaps this text was merely a sign of what the Geometric Lullaby label aimed to deliver with future releases, since both the slogan of the label and the description of Cosmic Creator focus around the topic of life and death? Or, maybe somehow in some way, the strange description goes hand-in-hand with the binary code also featured for this Electric Specter 電妖怪 release? Who knows what we really don’t know as of now.
Oh, and the binary code for this release that I was mentioning earlier? It’s the exact same string as the one found in Arctic Circuitry, so it’s not like we can really continue the string from the first release or add onto that.
Cosmic Creator was given a cassette run over at PLUS100 Records, another great label you should definitely check out, and even has a deluxe version that included a gift bag with crystals and purple dice. It’s the little additions to a release like this that makes collecting the physicals so much fun and further brings to life this mysterious aura surrounding releases like Cosmic Creator.
*QUICK SIDE NOTE* funny enough, Geometric Lullaby actually just announced a vinyl release and digital remaster of the two Electric Specter albums this week... Weird how the universe works sometimes!
Unfortunately, these two releases are the only Electric Specter 電妖怪 releases we would see come to life. Who knows, maybe there are more Electric Specter 電妖怪 releases out there on the internet that we just haven’t discovered yet, and maybe even that binary code has something to do with finding the key to those releases. Ya gotta love music projects that send your mind out to wonder!
Much love, ur boi, and forever enjoy the beautiful world of music,
- 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."