The Mysterious Sounds of "Infinity Frequencies"
The Mysterious Sounds of "Infinity Frequencies"
Between 2013 and 2014, a string of 3 mysterious pieces of music would be released onto the internet from an artist going by the name of Infinity Frequencies. Based out of Kyoto, Japan, the artist grouped these albums under what is now known as the “Computer Trilogy”, consisting of Computer Death, Computer Decay, and the final installation, Computer Afterlife.
This is actually the 2nd time I’ll be exploring the music of Infinity Frequencies, if you go back a little bit on Darknet you will find an article titled “Does This Room Actually Exist?”, which I recommend checking out before you read this article.. That article explores Infinity Frequencies 2018 release of Between two worlds, one of the most empty, yet thought provoking, albums I’ve ever heard.
There is obviously this crushing theme of loneliness within the music of Infinity Frequencies, and while last time we explored ideas such as liminal spaces with Between two worlds, this time we’ll be looking into these 3 albums that bring to life the death, decay and afterlife of a computer. It’s some pretty fascinating stuff, and as you’re about to see today, Infinity Frequencies’ ability to knit together this concept of us, as human beings, understanding an abandoned computer's emotion through sound, imagery and track titles is akin to something straight out of a great piece of film or a rich, thought-provoking novel.
Infinity Frequencies, and the Computer Trilogy are usually thrown under the category of “Signalwave”. Signalwave is a genre that I’ve talked about a lot on my YouTube channel. It’s pretty much summed up as a subgenre of Vaporwave that focuses on recycling old commercials, tv jingles, or any piece of music at all really, and creating a sound collage with everything gathered up. You’ll usually never find any crazy, layered production in regards to added instrumentals or stems or anything like that, but more so a focus on having the samples simply warp the listener to a dark room where they are flipping through tv channels in the middle of a night in the late 80’s, 90’s or early 2000’s.
Signalwave releases always felt like true arts & crafts projects to me, artists grabbing a bunch of source material and letting their creativity just have a go at how they want to personally glue it all together. I have always found that the fuzzy sound quality, paired with album art and imagery we’ve seen throughout the Signalwave scene in releases, have such amazing potential for story building.
Many times, Signalwave releases seem to get shit on by a lot of people, they’ll say it contains lazy sample flips or the album art is cheap and just, you know, a screenshot from an old Japanese tv commercial or something and that’s it. I think what separates certain Signalwave releases from others are the ones that are able to connect the listener to a story or setting.
Pairing Signalwave’s common tendency of simple sample flipping with a story of a computer trying to show us emotion through lifeless tracks, gives the practice of simple sample re-working actual significance and meaning. It’s not just a collection of taking a dozen samples or so and making a dozen songs out of them under different track names you’ve come up with, although some may see it that way, to me it’s the entire packaged musical setting, direction, and artwork of the release entirely that makes it more of a cinematic experience that you want to venture through from start to finish, which I personally don’t really find to be the case in lots of other types of music I listen to.
There is this unbelievable attraction to the sound design and structure of the samples reworked in these 3 pieces, the way Infinity Frequencies builds a story with such minimalistic bones, yet there’s such a dense, heavy shroud of atmosphere to swim through. There’s a lot to unpack behind the 68 mysterious Vaporwave, or more specifically, Signalwave tracks that make up the Computer Trilogy, so I’m going to be organizing this into 3 chapters: Death, Decay & Afterlife, to properly give each album it’s deserved time and space within the timeline of the Computer Trilogy. Let’s dive in.
CHAPTER I: DEATH
Released on May 13th, 2013, the first installation of the Computer Trilogy titled Computer Death comes to us in the form of 28 tracks, the longest track list in the entire series. For those who know of Infinity Frequencies, you know that this producer brings to life settings, themes and narratives through heavy sampling. And while these tracks aren’t layered with different samples or micro-samples all over the place, there is a delicate art to what Infinity Frequencies does, taking advantage of the connection between uncanny artwork, lonesome sample loops, even the song titles, for the listener. Like I said earlier, there is something to appreciate in the entirety of how a musical project or album is presented, the beauty of an artist optimizing every single aspect of a release to detail what they want to convey to the listener.
The opening track of Computer Death is titled “Hall of The Forgotten”, a 51 second sample of tense strings and anxious piano keys, all concluding with what I can only best describe as that stereotypical “dream sequence starting” sound. We’ve entered the world of the computer, and whether we want to or not, we’re here to watch it’s demise.
Computer Death takes pretty samples, or at least they were pretty before Infinity Frequencies got a hold of them, and alters their DNA to strip away any life and color from the original source material. Tracks like “As Darkness Falls” sounds like it could be a loading screen for a tycoon game from your old PC back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. “Group Meditation” and it’s muffled fuzz, distant percussion and synthy keys sound like a submarine exploring the depths of the sea... “Destiny” sounds like you’re planning a vacation to an exotic island and how about the track “Pulses'' as well, another sample that sounds like you’ve been on hold with your bank for about 45 minutes or so, yet we know you’re groovin to the beat so it’s all good. The track is drowned in audio fuzz and filters that the kicks and claps of the beat just completely fail to even stand themselves up throughout the 3 minute run time on this one.
While all of these descriptions sound lucrative and fun perhaps, Infinity Frequencies alters the sound of these samples to feel genuinely lonely. Songs are always hollowed out with no substance at all, low ends and high ends are never fully ventured and we’re constantly left in this dull middle ground of audio purgatory. The sound is never fierce or heavy, nor is it ever light and airy. The delicate and lifeless horns on the track “Footsteps” should, and could, sound
triumphant and royal if mixed and mastered in a more traditional sense, but we’re so submerged into the dedication of Infinity Frequencies’ remote and withdrawn texturizing that it’s void of any feeling at all.
I was able to get in contact with Infinity Frequencies, who told me the concept for the trilogy started a year earlier in 2012. Being almost a decade since beginning the project, they had a hard time remembering any specific musical influences for Computer Death; many people immediately make the connection of Infinity Frequencies’ work to the sounds and story-telling albums of The Caretaker due to their similar characteristics, but as I made note of in my first video on Infinity Frequencies, they didn’t even know who The Caretaker was while making these
albums. Even on Computer Death, we see Infinity Frequencies sample the 1980 psychological horror film The Shining in the track “Hall Of The Forgotten”, the same classic film The Caretaker got it’s very name and influence from, another subconscious connection between the energies found in both musical projects.
With Computer Death, Infinity Frequencies told me that at the time of its creation, they were starting to see Vaporwave just go in one direction, finding many releases focus on bringing happy nostalgia to life through funk and disco reworks. They wanted to do something different with a whole new atmosphere, something meaningful that told a story. Infinity Frequencies remembers watching a lot of old Japanese horror and samurai films back then and you can see that film or general video-medium influence come to life in a handful of tracks throughout the Computer Trilogy. While some of them can be as simple as Japanese car
commercial samples, you’ll find some moments where Infinity Frequencies will place a short vocal sample in a track, sometimes in English but many times these will be sourced from old Japanese commercials or films. As someone who can’t understand the language, this touch only ends up further intensifying my inability to connect with the computer that is trying to show us all it has before it dries out, a theme that is ventured frequently within the Signalwave genre, but here really connecting to the larger story at hand: the unsuccessful connection and understanding between you and the computer.
Tracks like “Occasion” feel as if I’ve ventured far into the computer now as the 2nd to last track of the album, with it’s haunting vocal sample popping in and out on top of a choir. To me, these vocal samples are the computer itself, trying to speak to us on its current condition, only to finally conclude with the lines “I am made of blue skies, and golden light”, a vocal sample that repeats itself throughout the last track “Majesty” until it switches to “and I will feel this way,
forever” as that track plays out. The computer will only know the reality it can conjure up within it’s memory and graphics, and that delusion is brought to life within these 2 simple sentences at the conclusion of the Computer Death album. As human beings, we can ignore death up until even the final moments it seems, and the computer here does the same... Maybe we aren’t that different after all.
“Entrance” and it’s haunting shrieks, washing themselves within your headphones, “Winds” being one of the more harsh tracks on here, labeling it as harsh is a bit wacky but when comparing it to the rest of the tracks within the trilogy it definitely feels like a rough, windy, cloudy day. “TV People” recycling one of those tried and true Weather Channel samples we’ve seen countless times in other Vaporwave releases, except here it is used for only about 30 seconds as it emanates from a barely audible tv somewhere in the distance. Or how about “Withering”, which may be the most distant sample flip of them all on here, with what should be a powerful vocal chop soaked in more of that thick VHS fuzz and Infinity Frequencies production.
The album art for Computer Death contains two old school computer monitors with what I’m assuming can only be the computer or entity of the hardware on the screen. I’ve always felt like these albums take place in outer space, some abandoned space station or something, and the low res VHS fuzz laid over the album artwork only further intensifies the cold and isolated feelings of a computer system out in space. Something that we are viewing from another source or screen, hundreds of thousands of miles away or something.
The tracklist of Computer Death hints to us as if we’re about to go on some grand last quest, a final portrayal of what this computer can conjure up for us within it’s wires and data... but as we’ll see in the next album of the series Computer Decay, death doesn’t mean it’s over. Let’s continue.
CHAPTER II: DECAY
Released on January 3rd, 2014, the frigid and desolate world of Computer Decay comes to us in the form of 18 tracks. Computer Decay is the shortest album in the trilogy as well, just shy of 20 minutes in total runtime. Starting off at the first track, “Forever”, Infinity Frequencies immediately begs the question of whether or not a computer ever truly dies? Maybe there comes a time where the computer could never turn on again, but the information, the virtual memories, it has built within itself for years, the files downloaded, the documents shared, codes distributed throughout it’s programs and software... Is this shell of what once was now forever stuck venturing the hallways of its data, without having the ability to turn on its screen and show others what it hides inside?
Track list titles become a bit spiritual in nature compared to the more literal and concrete display we saw in the first installation with Computer Death. With Computer Decay being the second album in the trilogy, the transitional stage release between start and end, the album takes on a very floaty and atmospheric direction with its sample choices and song titles. This installation of the Computer Trilogy embodies the idea of a changing state, despite how crushingly barren
many of these sample flips can feel.
“Fused” is as empty as they come, a track just shy of 2 minutes that suspends itself in the dead of space. “Elegance” and it’s luxurious chimes and it’s chirping piano keys are a sweet little light in the darkness of this purgatory state before we head into the track “I saw her” which pairs together a vocal sample with two echoing sounds going back and forth with one another. “Sacrifice” and it’s ancient personality reminds me of what would eventually come in Between two worlds, some sort’ve background music you’d find on an old VHS your family once bought in a museum gift shop from long ago. “Traces” feels warm, a hot audio towel with more heavenly pianos and dreamy synth keys, and we conclude the track list with “Watching”, a sad and tired barrage of more haunting shrieks and cries, the final moment of a barely operating battery to a fully corroded and abandoned piece of hardware.
“I wanted the listener to experience the emotions and thoughts that a dying or abandoned pc computer would have, in a world that had no use for PCs anymore. It’s what I felt vaporwave was trying to say at the time in my own mind.” - Infinity Frequencies
I love the blue, freezing tones of the album art in Computer Decay. I think this cover is my favorite image in the whole series as it really connects with that feeling of just entering the void and not really knowing where to go. The Computer Trilogy as a whole always reminded me of the short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", a science-fiction tale by American writer Harlan Ellison that showcases a post-apocalyptic world with 5 people trapped inside a supercomputer named AM who tortures these 5 people as revenge for being created in the first place. I’m sure most of you have at least heard of the story before or know the basic plot about it, but if you do not, there is this great video from one of my favorite YouTubers “Wendigoon” called A Hopeful Hell: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, that all explains the story wonderfully.
With us, the listener, being trapped within the computer setting Infinity Frequencies brings to us, The Computer Trilogy and "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" both share that empty, hopeless feeling through it’s narrative skeletons. Both showcase a journey within the bones of a computer which pairs the two projects together wonderfully, and if you’re one who enjoys reading with a bit of background music, I highly recommend experiencing both at the same time.
Computer Decay is the stairway to the next stage, the vital steps towards the Computer Afterlife which would drop a couple months later in 2014. It’s hollow sound design creates quite a large soundscape, there’s an image of an endless blue void whenever you’re listening to this thing, something comparable to a blurry deep sea if you have ever opened your eyes underwater in an ocean. Infinity Frequencies ability to take what once was enjoyable, even groovy, samples and morph them into carved out shells of lonely, cold and emotionless pieces of sound is just addicting to listen to. Each track being bite sized always helps as well as I think you would genuinely feel nauseous listening to some of these tracks for more than 5 or 6 minutes, so the journey is always wonderfully crafted throughout each release in the trilogy, Computer Decay possibly being my favorite. It’s a long, dried out road to the afterlife.
The Computer Trilogy was the start of Infinity Frequencies unique and lonely sound, with their first couple of albums being more vibrant and less experimental, in terms of overall sound design. Those releases were simple eccojams and fun, smooth Vaporwave loops that are always a treat to return to, but with Computer Death and Computer Decay, we were really beginning to see the signature, lonely style brewing within the Infinity Frequencies project. A couple of months after the release of Computer Decay, Infinity Frequencies would waste no time in getting to the finale of the project: Computer Afterlife. The constant energy of wonderful
sample material becoming shrouded in dark and dismal energy always clouded the journey of the trilogy, and in Computer Afterlife we see this direction take its final state... Let us dive in.
CHAPTER III: AFTERLIFE
Before we get into the final chapter of the Computer Trilogy, I want to take a look at the physical releases that were made for the project.
On December 1st, 2019, the label “theINFINITIpool” would release custom made, limited edition cassette box sets of the trilogy. Only 100 of these box sets were made which included a custom 3D printed computer box with a removable screen that revealed the cassettes inside. The box set featured Computer Death on a gold foil shell, Computer Decay on a teal foil shell, and Computer Afterlife on a silver foil shell. These are of course, long sold out, and anyone who got
their hands on one of these is quite lucky, unique packaging always goes a long way and this was all crafted wonderfully to celebrate the trilogy. Really cool stuff!
For vinyl fans, Infinity Frequencies recently announced a Computer Trilogy 3LP pre-order which is still up to order on their Bandcamp page as of the making of this video. The 3 vinyl set is limited to 300 copies only, each album pressed on clear translucent vinyl. There aren’t any vinyl mockup photos that I know of, but the Bandcamp listing for the pre-order does include some high quality images of the Computer Death, Computer Decay, and Computer Afterlife covers as
well as 2 additional images we haven’t seen yet that I am assuming will be part of the packaging. I’m really excited for this drop and I’m eager to see these fascinating images come to life throughout the gatefold of the packaging.
On May 17th 2014, we would receive the conclusion of the Computer Trilogy. Computer Afterlife ends our journey with 22 tracks, the final goodbye from the computer we’ve watched along the way. The intro track “Lost in the abyss” is beautiful, Infinity Frequencies chooses a luscious sample that once again feels like a light begging to be seen in a sea of virtual darkness. “Eternal”, “Data entry” and “Empty” follow right after and you can already feel a departure from the more heavily compressed and muffled sound design used on the first two albums in the
trilogy, at least to the intensity of what it was in Computer Death and Computer Decay. Computer Afterlife is a bit more bright, vibrant and jolting compared to the other 2, the piano never seemed more triumphant in the trilogy than what came to be used on “Empty”. It’s powerful and stands out from the empty backdrop the trilogy constantly indulges itself in. Track 7 “A storm is coming” is a great example as well, the piano has a bit more consistency and doesn’t feel as muffled compared to anything in the first 2 albums. “Relic” is simple but sharp,
and “Portals” sounds like a murder mystery finally beginning to unravel itself to the detective who’s worked way too hard to figure it all out.
Computer Afterlife is a glowing departure for the series and allows the computer to give it’s final log of data in the best way it possibly can. The saturated image used as the cover for the album is the most vivid one yet, a rich blue that embodies the motherboards and information-filled pieces that beg to be brought into a new piece of hardware, one last cry to not be left locked away in this recently decayed computer. The computer tells us this in tracks like “Remember’ a minute and a half of weeping strings with a piano standing alongside for comfort. “Surrounding” brings the strings to life as well, a non-stop 48 second loop with more Japanese vocal bites placed on top. The final track of the entire project, “Within”, feels hopeful and adventurous, a dawn of a new day with a simple, pretty melody.
Computer Afterlife plays with strings and pianos for a big chunk of the tracks, giving it all the more of an organic touch experienced throughout its samples. It’s all a great, well-deserved farewell from the heavy journeys featured in Computer Death and Computer Decay, but still explores the lonely, isolated feelings the trilogy strives to emit. The computer is finally beginning to connect with us on a level we can understand, even if it’s only a little bit. There is more warmth and organic emotion present in how Computer Afterlife plays out. Wrapping up the
trilogy brought about a new beginning to the Infinity Frequencies project, with 2015’s Into the light bringing about many of the same feelings we were introduced to in the Computer Trilogy, a staple that would continue in future releases throughout the Infinity Frequencies discography.
I’ve talked about and explored so many different albums, specifically Vaporwave albums, and Infinity Frequencies is one of those artists who always just puts out such timeless material for me. I can return to projects like the Computer Trilogy and Between two worlds countlessly due to the simple, yet intensely rich, sample flips that give me a world to venture through no matter what I’m doing at that point in the day. Everything is always so delicate from Infinity Frequencies, and I find the sounds to always pair so well with our intense, “doing a thousand things at once” lifestyles we tend to have in this day and age.
I’m always excited to see what Infinity Frequencies does next, whether that is continuing the lonesome aura through new sample flips or trying something completely different, I’m always open for anything.
Cheers, much love always, ur boi,