In my early teens I worked on an RPG. Thanks to a fun little program called RPG Maker 2K, anyone could do it. The game was called Rigging the World and it revolved around a plot to steal a fictional country’s election with the help of the Russians, and I swear I am not making that up. I think what happens is you rescue a couple of Russian guys from a dungeon somewhere and as a token of gratitude they end up helping you become President, so you can stop the impending end of the world or something. The characters’ names were “Natron” and “Bong” and I believe one of the special attacks involved Colonel Sanders. It had one “official” release and reactions ranged everywhere from “this guy’s got some talent!” to “what the hell is wrong with you?” I think the latter reaction was probably the right one. Continue reading
このアルバムについてのすべてはなんとなく :: Everything about this album is bullshit
There are a number of genres which seem to exist in their own world; music that may cross over from time to time but mostly just gets talked about in the context of itself. You know the ones – prog, metal, trance, IDM, etc. Once you get somewhat deep into them you start to encounter the albums which take the identifying properties of the genre and crank ’em up to 11. These are the albums which tend to be classics within their scene, albeit a lot more polarizing than most of the canonized stuff. So like Nattens Madrigal for metal, Go Plastic for IDM, or almost everything Gentle Giant did for prog. Maybe you dig ’em, maybe they hit you on a level that nothing else does, but you sure as hell wouldn’t play them for anyone who wasn’t indoctrinated already.
This gets interesting for vaporwave, a genre which became self-aware, ironic, and kinda shitty on Day 1. Ramona Xavier, the woman behind 情報デスクVIRTUAL, (translation: Virtual Information Desk) knows this better than anyone, even remarking that she’s released some intentionally awful albums just to see if people would attempt to find a deeper meaning in it. Those familiar with her work may have their suspicions as to which albums those are. Truth is, vaporwave relies so much on the ideas of nostalgia, aesthetic, and atmosphere, concepts which mean totally different things to different people. Maybe it sounds like a joke to you, but to someone else it might be weirdly profound, or something that manages to coax out a distant, very specific memory of childhood. 幌コンテンポラリー (translates to: Contemporary Sapporo) was described by the artist herself as “a parody of American hypercontextualization of e-Asia circa 1995”. I have no idea if she meant something by that, or if she just thought that’s what a vaporwave artist would say – after all, Ramona was all of three years old in 1995. If you lived through the 90’s, especially if you played a lot of video games back then, you might be able to figure what she’s talking about there. But don’t look too much into it. 幌コンテンポラリー is not exactly intended to a serious statement – if the 4/20 release date (happy 5th birthday!) and 69 minute runtime don’t tip you off, then maybe the tracklisting will. If you wanted to understand vaporwave without ever actually listening to it, a stroll through the song titles here would probably do it.
Vaporwave is the sort of genre that’s more intriguing the less you know about it. Ideally you’d find an interesting-looking cassette laying behind a dresser in a thrift store or at a garage sale, plunk down fifty cents, then dig out some old boom box and proceed to get freaked out by the bizarre noises that came out of it. You would have so many questions – a who, several whats, lots of whys. You’d look for answers but there would be nothing there, just Japanese text and eye-catching pastels, accompanied by music that’s both strangely familiar and utterly alien, like pop music for the brain-damaged.