TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR A QUARANTINE
With everything that is going on in the world today, I want to give you 10 albums that will keep you indoors, help pass the time, and have you prepared to tackle any possible quarantine that requires you to stay inside for an unseeable amount of time. A selection of 10 albums that will provide you with an interesting blend of sounds, moods, settings, and stories during these times of isolation and social distancing. I want to take a look at everything from intoxicating vaporwave selections to stimulating auditory experiences to all-out creepy apocalyptic soundscapes.
FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER - Isolation
To start off this list, let’s get as pin-point as we possibly can with a work titled “Isolation”, a composition made for an installation piece released in 2015 by Frank Bretschneider. Isolation was made to take the listener on an auditive journey through a former prison in Bautzen, Germany, a prison that from 1956 to 1989, was known to hold political prisoners under unbelievably severe and inhuman isolated conditions.
This musical piece awakens the hyper-sensitive audio conscience in all of us, its carefully placed low hums, subtle buzzing frequencies and moments where you can’t decide if you are listening to pure silence or if your ears are just going crazy, replicates the impact of longtime sensory deprivation and how an environment like this prison affected its inmates. This is a piece you should definitely listen to with good headphones if you want the full, unnerving experience... I’ll see you on the other side.
You can grab Isolation over at the LINE Bandcamp, and make sure to check out the rest of their catalog that explores the aesthetics of minimalism through sound.
haircuts for men - 違法 COLLECTION
haircuts for men is no stranger to Vaporwave fans around the globe, a producer in the scene who has released a large number of work that many find to be essential to the genre. The “違法 COLLECTION” (Illegal Collection) which came out in 2019 is the perfect hub world to access the work of haircuts for men. A collection of tunes from out of print LP's, EP's, Compilations, Singles, and One-offs, “違法 COLLECTION” has enough material to last you for quite a while, 340 songs to be exact on this thing.
Drum loops as smooth as butter, haircuts for men has always been some of my favorite background music with songs blanketed in low-intensity, warm and dreamy textures that bring you inside an empty diner late at night inside the depths of a big city. Every track is so disposable when being placed in a 340 song collection, but thats what ive always found so fun about getting lost in the clutches of haircuts for men and their large discography anyway, and with the practicality of all these gooey sample re-works on one bandcamp page, you really can not go wrong with this thing. As of the creation of this video, the entire project is listed as “name your price” on bandcamp, so go give this thing a listen and support one of the smokiest artists in the game.
Tycho - Simulcast
Tycho was an artist I listened to a ton of in college, albums like “Dive” and “Awake” accompanied me during plenty of study sessions... I also thought the artwork for these releases were so cool :)
Tycho’s most recent release from February 2020 titled “Simulcast” would have been absolutely no difference if it came out during my times at university, only this album has a little more drive to it compared to albums of the past, a little more pump with some breakbeat atmospheric drumming reminiscent of the production on some classic Boards of Canada material.
The modern sound of Tycho has evolved from the super minimal styles of past releases, the whole project here has a very mellow organic feel to it, a lot of instrumental layering giving it sophisticated yet gentle energy. “Simulcast” is the audio form of a really good cup of coffee in the morning, it wakes you up while still being delicate and can be extremely calming during these stressful times.
You can grab this album digitally on Bandcamp as well as pick up a CD or vinyl if that is your sort of thing!
2814 - Lost Fragments
I wanna share with you some more work that you just can not go wrong with if you are trying to escape the confines of isolation and social separation... pure synthy and slushy ambiance to comfort your body, mind, and soul.
Say hello to “Lost Fragments” by the legendary electronic duo of HKE and Telepath, released towards the end of 2019 to celebrate the collaborative work over the years between these two iconic artists. 10-tracks of rare and unreleased gems you can find waiting for you on the Dream Catalogue label.
Grabbing a selection of tracks from previous compilations and mixing them in with early unheard cuts from Rain Temple, one of their most beloved releases to date, as well as a few unreleased tracks from their earliest collaborative work on the ‘Fragmented Memories’ project which preceded 2814 itself, the duo has crafted something of a full album experience that stands up beautifully alongside any of their previous drops in the 2814 album vault.
With everything being professionally remastered by Telepath himself, “Lost Fragments” will take its time with you and bring you towards that ascension you’ve truly been searching for. You can grab this thing digitally or pick up a cassette over at Dream Catalogue as well.
FLORAナチュラル - FLOWER BLOOM
“FLOWER BLOOM” is a project by ECCO 深い夢 (ECCO DEEP DREAM), it is part of a trilogy of releases known as the Biosphere Trilogy which came out in January of 2020. Consisting of some of the most euphoric, angelic and beautiful soundscapes I think I’ve ever heard, “FLOWER BLOOM” will blossom through your ears spouting the sincerity of nature, flowers, forests and everything in between.
The whole project has a very grand feeling behind it all with these long, stretched out sweeping synths and soothing atmospheric textures. You will also find some fun sound effects here like rainfall, birds chirping, and similar subjects alike to really bring the outdoors right into your headphones. This notion of discovery and stepping foot into this frontier full of ever-growing life is super refreshing and hopeful in these times of being stuck in our homes... a reminder that nature, in the end, will always prevail.
I also absolutely love the artwork for this release, there is this subtle glitch treatment towards the top of the artwork that disperses from the plant-life below and everything is shrouded in this beautiful coat of teals, greens, and pinks… absolutely gorgeous!
“FLOWER BLOOM” is also available as a “name your price” digital download on Bandcamp, so be sure to show ECCO 深い夢 some love and grab this bundle of nature today!
PowerPCME - Numérique Growth
Talking about artists like Tycho and Boards of Canada, PowerPCME’s latest album “Numérique Growth” is no different in what it tries to accomplish with it’s moody, warbly synths, psychedelic flangers and a reliance on those faint, texturized drums to create an audio habitat of pastel colors and ever-changing weather patterns.
PowerPCME’s evolution as an artist has been pretty dynamic, and while many know him for his earlier projects in the Vaporwave scene like “Kmart 1989-1992”, PowerPCME’s love for this brooding, moody and floaty electronic music has really overtaken his production style in recent times and I absolutely love it. His release of Endless Summer in 2017 was solid, but “Numérique Growth” is easily his most charismatic and close-to-heart release yet. On this release, you really feel like everything the New York producer has created thus far has truly led up to this point.
A mix of Vaporwave, chillwave, hip hop and a bunch of other things thrown in the pot, sound styles change like seasons on “Numérique Growth” and it’s breezy mixing and mastering glues every instrument, every sound, and every feeling so seamlessly you will feel like a leaf floating through the woods, untouched.
“Numérique Growth” is available on cassette, minidisc, and digitally over at one of my favorite record labels out there, My Pet Flamingo. Go give my boys a visit, tell em’ Pad sent ya.
Hantasi - Tusop®
The bittersweet beauty of having a famous or iconic album in the Vaporwave scene is that it can overshadow your future releases for years and years to come, with fans always begging you to create the follow up to that one specific album when you may want to just go a completely different route at this point in your career. One artist that is the perfect example of this misfortune is Hantasi.
Many of you know Hantasi for creating arguably the first Mallsoft album ever, “Vacant Places”, an album that definitely deserves praise no doubt, but I can promise you that there is much, much, much more to discover within the world of Hantasi.
I want to introduce you to one of Hantasi’s other releases, a beautiful album from 2019 that connects the worlds of ambiance and Vaporwave... an album known as “Tusop®”
“Tusop®” is 7 tracks long with each track ranging anywhere from 4 to almost 8 minutes long. Haunting echoes and sweeping interstellar synths provide such an amazing head trip, “Tusop®” is another one of those albums you really need to give proper attention to... put some good headphones on and allow the waves to trickle into your ears.
Some awesome artwork to accompany the music (which to me looks like the Rosetta Stone of Vaporwave), “Tusop®” is a majestic ride that can help any of us escape the physical world and arrive at a place with much less responsibility and direction. Let your mind be at ease and discover the value of unfiltered relaxation.
You can listen to “Tusop®” over at Hantasi’s Bandcamp as well as it’s residency at the Geometric Lullaby label, which I also should mention popped out a beauty of a cassette for this thing… which is, without a surprise, sold out.
g h o s t i n g - Telenights
We have all left the television on at night at some point in our lives. While most probably forgot to simply shut it off before they finally fell asleep, I know some of y'all feel a tad bit more comfortable with the faint sound of the tv on in the background as you slowly doze off. The light emitted from the tv just barely getting through your closed eyes... The reassurance that “something” is in the room, and you are not alone.
2014’s “Telenights” released by an artist known as ghosting does just that, only nice and compact in the form of a 16-track album release. “Telenights” is a quick Signalwave listen, no song is longer than 2 minutes but it feels like every track on here is jam packed with fun, nostalgic, hazy sample chops and fuzzy commercial samples. I think the comfort of sleeping with the television on boils down to the fact that it creates this feeling that we aren’t the only ones to exist during the wee hours of the night, and “Telenights” carefully crafted selection of channel-surfing chops provides the perfect overabundance of advertisements and conversations to accompany you in your lonely living quarters. If you love that VHS aesthetic, this thing buzzes from start to finish with varying layers of warmth and fuzz to really give off the idea that this television has been left on, forgotten in the corner of a dark, musty room.
Staring into the blue box in the corner. It lights up the room and makes me dream again... The digital download of “Telenights” can be purchased over at Dream Catalogue for those interested in getting sucked inside your family’s old living room television.
Sea of Voices - N E W Crystal Macintosh Novel
Forgotten dance halls, air-conditioned lobbies and abandoned corporate skyscrapers make up Sea of Voices’ 2019 album “N E Wクリスタルマッキントッシュ小説” (N E W Crystal Macintosh Novel). A traditional Vaporwave album with a cool and collected attitude, this 25-track long selection is as calm as a cucumber, proper unwinding music for you and your loved ones.
I still find a great bit of fun and joy in Vaporwave that plays on overdone tropes of the past (album artwork bombarded with dozens of colors, elements, and design choices … a tracklist flooded in Japanese characters … the natural mystique of an anonymous identity, just to name a few).
Somewhere out in Tokyo, in some empty corporate complex or office superstructure, someone forgot to turn off the radio at their desk and “N E Wクリスタルマッキントッシュ小説” is definitely what is coming out of that radio.
“N E Wクリスタルマッキントッシュ小説” is available on a number of Bandcamp pages, including the legendary DMT Tapes FL, but if you want to pick up a physical version of this album head on over to Aquablanca 音楽レーベル as they somehow still have a beautiful cassette version with an obi strip for sale. There are only 20 of these made, and like I said these are somehow still available as of the making of this video, so head on over there if you are looking to expand your Vaporwave cassette collection and furthermore, support Sea of Voices
death’s dynamic shroud - SEAWRLDハートブレーク
The cloak of death’s dynamic shroud covers us all, doesn’t it?
What isn’t there to say at this point about Vaporwave legends death’s dynamic shroud? One of the most prolific, unique and talented projects in the entire scene with such a signature touch on everything they produce, the death’s dynamic shroud discography is plagued with diversity... a never-ending roller coaster of emotions, settings, and stories.
If you really want to ooze out those feelings of emotional distress during these times of isolation, say hello to Tech Honor’s golden egg, “SEAWRLDハートブレーク” (SEAWRLD Heart Break).
Death’s dynamic shroud consists of three members: James Webster, Keith Rankin, and Tech Honors. Tech’s contributions to the trio consist of some of my favorite albums from the musical project of dds, but “SEAWRLDハートブレーク” provides one of the most lively musical escapades of them all.
A vivid oceanic world of virtual uneasiness, this album’s pitched-down samples and feelings of absolute emotional distress will influence any listener to step right on into this theme-park of Seapunk rides and attractions... Only 78 measly tickets to ride the rainbow-colored dolphin that takes you below the sea level, only to finally arise once you can’t hold your breath for a second more.
This hectic color-frenzy album artwork and tracklist consisting of nothing but symbols and broken letters make you feel like you found it all at the bottom of a discount sticker bin near the cash register of your local arts and crafts store.
The “SEAWRLDハートブレーク” cassette is long sold out but the album is available as a “name your price” digital download over at the death’s dynamic shroud Bandcamp. Escape isolation with even more heartbreak at the SEAWRLD.
Stay safe, wash your hands, and use this time to decompress… But always, no matter what, let music accompany you through whatever hardships you may find yourself in. Much love, ur boi, Pad Chennington.