Top 10 Vaporwave Albums
As we all know, vaporwave music is a form of appropriation art. This style of music often contains jazz and Muzak samples that have been shifted and/or stretched. The style came to life in reaction to economic and social powers that are still a part of our lives: globalization, nostalgia, depression. There isn’t any other kind of music that concerns itself with these aspects of modern life and that’s what makes it so unique. Let’s take a look at the top 10 albums that cemented vaporwave music’s place amongst the other genres.
In an interview, Will Burnett (a.k.a Internet Club) said that he was going for “something very Debordian, about how this capitalistic society has generated dehumanizing hyperreality by focusing on infinite generation of ideals as shown through commodities” (http://www.dummymag.com/features/adam-harper-vaporwave).
By taking stock music and overlaying glitchy effects, Internet Club has created a calming overall effect and takes the listener on a foray into hyperreality.
The album was released in 2014 by the label Childodisc. The tracks are an absolutely intoxicating collection of sounds and you could say that each track is more of a sketch than a song. The essential components in the album are obscure slow-motion sampling and decaying sound quality. This album comes recommended for anyone who isn’t afraid to remove beats from the equation.
8) Eyeliner – LARP of Luxury (2012)
This album is by the so-called Distaderio (a.k.a Eyeliner), New Zealand artist Luke Rowell. The release is a key example of skillfully new-composed vaporwave, which sounds like 90’s synth pop. The tracks take a neo-futuristic turn on vaporwave. Eyeliner did a fantastic job on incorporating catchy melodies in unusual ways.
7) Televape – 超越愛 (translated: Beyond Love (2015))
The album is a collaboration between Vaperror and t e l e p a t h, one of the members of UK duo, 2814. What is most interesting about this album is that it was sold in a red or blue cassette version for a limited amount of time. The tracks are most definitely easing into the softer side of the Vaporwave scene and both of the artists bring their own specific beauty to the songs. You can sense the trap side from Vaperror and the catchy side from Telepath. It’s one unique interpretation of ambient funk, jazz, and synth.
6) Vaperror – Mana Pool (2014)
Back again for a second time on our list is Vaperror, a.k.a Jeff Cardinal. “Mana Pool” was released back in 2014 by British Dream Catalogue, one of the biggest vaporwave labels. This particular album was so popular that it was re-released by BDC in 2016, this time on vinyl.
The sounds on “Mana Pool” reflect a vaporwave/trap meltdown and creates an atmosphere that is dreamy yet danceable.
5) 2814 - 新しい日の誕生 (translated: Birth of a New Day) (2015)
The actual title of this album is 新しい日の誕生 (read as Atarashii Hi no Tanjou in Japanese). Released in 2015 by Britain’s Dream Catalogue, the iconic UK duo created an immersive experience for the listener. You can hear wind and rain sounds throughout the tracks and other various echoes of nature. This album is one of the most accessible vaporwave albums and straddles the realms of vaporwave and classical. Immersive, soulful,and atmospheric, 2814’s 2015 release is a perfect way to start your new day.
4) Death’s Dynamic Shroud.wmv - I’ll Try Living Like This (2015)
One of the most game-changing vaporwave albums was released by the trio DDS.wmv (a.k.a Giant Claw, Peach, and Plum). This is the most overlooked album from 2015 as it is genuinely intriguing to listen to the samples of old video games and k-pop intermingled with sounds that mirror the top tracks of the 90’s. This trio isn’t afraid to pay subtle homage to ambient techno while still maintaining a digitally slick sound.
3) Saint Pepsi – Hit Vibes (2013)
The bronze goes to American musician and singer, Ryan DeRobertis (a.k.a Skylar Spence, a.k.a Saint Pepsi) for his future- funk album, “Hit Vibes.” It’s one of the essential vaporwave albums every enthusiast must listen to and it’s also unapologetically fun and creative. The album itself possesses a very compelling plunderphonic sound, reaching into the archives of 70’s and 80’s R&B, funk, and disco music. Overall, it’s an exciting addition to the vaporwave canon.
2) Blank Banshee – Blank Banshee 0 (2012)
Next up is the Canadian artist and musician, Blank Banshee, and his pioneering album of the vaporwave genre, “Blank Banshee 0.” The album is considered a vaportrap, as it introduced trap style beats and elements to the vaporwave genre and consists largely of 1980’s and 90’s sourced samples layered over original beats, instrumentals, and vocals. A limited amount of physical CDs were released in 2014 and the eye-catching aesthetic cover is designed by the Blank Banshee himself. His use of the head of video game character, Lara Croft, can often be seen as a meme on Facebook, Reddit, and 4chan. An additional honorable mention goes out to this artist for his subsequent 2013 album, “Blank Banshee 1.”
Well, it wouldn’t be vaporwave without the one and only Floral Shoppe--the album that defines the genre and placed vaporwave on the map. Vektroid or Macintosh Plus,(a.k.a Ramona Xavier), previously produced other chillwave and vaporwave releases under multiple pseudonyms. “Floral Shoppe” incorporates slowed and edited samples from many songs, notably funk and R&B spanning from the 70’s to 90’s. One of the songs in the album, リサフランク420 (translated: Lisa Frank 420), has 30 million views on YouTube as of August 2017. Similarly to the “Blank Banshee 0,” the cover art is frequently used on clothing, in Facebook Photoshop battles in vaporwave groups, and various memes.
In conclusion, vaporwave isn’t dead so long as we are still dealing with globalization, nostalgia, and depression. While the vaporwave genre is evolving all the time, this list of Top 10 classics is a sure ride on an aesthetic soundwave.