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Best vaporwave of 2020

kliffi

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yaaas gimme recs :p

so many to choose from... so to narrow it down here are my favorite vgm-adjacent albums from this year:

View: https://machinapensant.bandcamp.com/album/-


^a one-of-a-kind post-vapor concept, matte grey dreamscapes and glimmering shadow fragments. check out 何も新しい

View: https://dreammuseumrecords.bandcamp.com/album/temple-of-null


^dark trap, footwork, vapor, vgm all in a blender: like crypt worlds in a rave hall. check out the title track

View: https://soulvapor.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-sounds


^earthboundcore, vgmwave (my soft spot), some of the best use of 16-bit soundfonts i've ever heard, great original music and sample mixes happening all at once. menu music for days. check out ハイパー次元ソウルスケープ.

happy new year~
 

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EtymonLegomenon

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I thought this got made a while ago? Have been waiting to post. I got something bigger in the pipeline that I was going to drop in the new year, but I'll drop some of my more obscure faveZ here.

That Acetantina album was really fucked up and needlessly dense but the title track is definitely one of the songs of the year for me.


A bodily existential nightmare, easily the best dark ambient of the year, and one of the grimmest albums I've ever enjoyed. I thought Hantasi was a one-trick pony with Vacant Spaces - he's really prolific, just most of what he proliferates is low-effort and bland. But I was wrong to generalize: he's still capable of something like this.

View: https://olympius.bandcamp.com/album/--18

Bossa, samba and MBP twisted through a prism of gloom. I posted Secret Truth by Male Alchemy in the obscure vaporwave thread, this is very much in the same style, but with some sun sparkling off the murky waters. Not the most high-effort vaporwave here but, y'know, there's more to music than how long it took to make.


I think I'll remember 2020 as a year of heavy-hitting vaporwave compilations that pretty much flew under the radar. Not every song on here is great, but it's a buffet-style lineup, and certainly features some names to raise eyebrows at (including Eyeliner, VANITAS, Donor Lens, Skeleton Lipstick, Runners Club '95, Fake Fever, PowerPCME, FM Skyline). I hope these continue - compilations like these have proven to be a great way to challenge artists to explore styles in which they may not have a full album's worth of ideas, styles that they have oftentimes excelled in. I guess I should mention I wrote a track-by-track review of this on RYM, [here], if anyone's curious, though I'm not totally happy with that review looking over it now. Also worth noting, this has probably the best cover art in vaporwave history.
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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great recs!! that olympius album is mellow as fuck. also yes that album cover is so sick, the tron-esque ethernet cables get me every time
I always find something new in it to look at and delight me every time I pull it up, LOL. Last time it was the ferns, this time it's the onyx and marble precipice at the edge of the carpet. Unironically, my vision for vaporwave is to see more stuff in this direction, stuff that's only vaporwave tangentially and focuses more on just creating solid visuals... not just low-res pictures of cities at night.
 
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kliffi

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I always find something new in it to look at and delight me every time I pull it up, LOL. Last time it was the ferns, this time it's the onyx and marble precipice at the edge of the carpet. Unironically, my vision for vaporwave is to see more stuff in this direction, stuff that's only vaporwave tangentially and focuses more on just creating solid visuals... not just low-res pictures of cities at night.
totally agree; the future of vaporwave is absolutely the audiovisual; it's always been a "soundtracking" approach to music
 
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gogi93

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Some great stuff from WIn96 and Eyeliner, also shout out to Voyage Futur for this EP as well, more ambientwave but I like it.
View: https://soulvapor.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-sounds


^earthboundcore, vgmwave (my soft spot), some of the best use of 16-bit soundfonts i've ever heard, great original music and sample mixes happening all at once. menu music for days. check out ハイパー次元ソウルスケープ.

happy new year~
Thanks for introducing me to this, love it!
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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totally agree; the future of vaporwave is absolutely the audiovisual; it's always been a "soundtracking" approach to music
this is something I've been writing pretty extensively on lately. vaporwave
(1) is fundamentally all about baser, idealized forms of beauty - simple, decadent, pleasant sounds and shaded smooth surfaces and things like that;
(2) combines the visual, the narrative and the auditory arts;
(3) takes interest in the creation of locations, architecture, etc. through music and its accoutrements. the cyberpunk stuff tends to be a great example of this (I can imagine the ENTIRE Rain Temple as a real place).

so yeah, I hope as vaporwave matures it grows into these directions specifically.
 
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kliffi

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this is something I've been writing pretty extensively on lately. vaporwave
(1) is fundamentally all about baser, idealized forms of beauty - simple, decadent, pleasant sounds and shaded smooth surfaces and things like that;
(2) combines the visual, the narrative and the auditory arts;
(3) takes interest in the creation of locations, architecture, etc. through music and its accoutrements. the cyberpunk stuff tends to be a great example of this (I can imagine the ENTIRE Rain Temple as a real place).

so yeah, I hope as vaporwave matures it grows into these directions specifically.
definitely, and i think it will. imo vaporwave is proto-VR music
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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I don't know about that, I think vaporwave's been with us as long as we've had smart electronic producers. I hope it thinks of itself less and less as a monolithic thing or as what the meme stereotypes make it seem like, and more as a mood or style of production (which it has done).
 
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kliffi

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i think calling vaporwave VR music is as antithetical to "monolithic" as you can get. in a broad and theoretical sense, vaporwave (in its mood and spacializing style of production) embraces the "virtually real" ...people describe vaporwave as internet music and in that sense it's about world-building, be it a faux-fantasy mall corridor or a sci-fi dreamscape, the music has always been about taking recontextualization to its extreme... drawing from historical samples (real) and making brand new reality (virtual) as a schizoanalysis of ourselves
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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i think calling vaporwave VR music is as antithetical to "monolithic" as you can get. in a broad and theoretical sense, vaporwave (in its mood and spacializing style of production) embraces the "virtually real" ...people describe vaporwave as internet music and in that sense it's about world-building, be it a faux-fantasy mall corridor or a sci-fi dreamscape, the music has always been about taking recontextualization to its extreme... drawing from historical samples (real) and making brand new reality (virtual) as a schizoanalysis of ourselves


Still isn't clear what you mean by "VR". As in the music evokes some imaginary locations, or that it binds well to images of places? I agree with that. If you mean literal videogames outside of "vaporwave could soundtrack these" I don't know what you mean.
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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It is interesting how rarely I've seen music attempt to combine itself in any significant way to art or visual components of any sort. Games sort of have it lucky, they can produce environs to match some given music perfectly and flesh out the instrumental with images more potent than any piece of album art or gatefold illustration can manage. Maybe that's one of the reasons #TRUEGAMERS load up their iPods with VGM and nothing else, and try to convince people it's BETTER than other music (and not just the songs they happen to have on in the background most).
 
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kliffi

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LMAO that webpage is peak geekdom, i love it. also lol at "best speeds" so v a p o r lugiaemoteface

im of the mind that virtual reality is much broader than VR games. theres a great quote by timothy leary that "matter is simply frozen information" and we definitely live in a time where something being virtually real can be more actual than a physical fact because our actions are more and more virtualized in media. not to get bookish but lacan's "virtual real" always comes to mind. the vaporwave notions of lost futures and reanimated pasts seem invested in this idea of virtuality, and i definitely love video game music for similar reasons: sound as architecture, whatnot. #TRUEGAMERS tho lol, claiming supremacy in anything is dumb dumb.

i love this question of what vaporwave means for music/meme, but maybe it's best to spend that conversation in a different thread. always down to talk about audiovisuals! to me vaporwave isn't necessarily a soundtrack to something but rather a soundtrack in and of itself; the a e s t h e t i c is almost a synesthesia in the way that the medium and materiality of the sound is put to the fore (tape, glitch, obvious production interventions like jump-cuts). more on point, here's another dank album from this year:

:p

 
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EtymonLegomenon

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LMAO that webpage is peak geekdom, i love it. also lol at "best speeds" so v a p o r lugiaemoteface

im of the mind that virtual reality is much broader than VR games. theres a great quote by timothy leary that "matter is simply frozen information" and we definitely live in a time where something being virtually real can be more actual than a physical fact because our actions are more and more virtualized in media. not to get bookish but lacan's "virtual real" always comes to mind. the vaporwave notions of lost futures and reanimated pasts seem invested in this idea of virtuality, and i definitely love video game music for similar reasons: sound as architecture, whatnot. #TRUEGAMERS tho lol, claiming supremacy in anything is dumb dumb.

i love this question of what vaporwave means for music/meme, but maybe it's best to spend that conversation in a different thread. always down to talk about audiovisuals! to me vaporwave isn't necessarily a soundtrack to something but rather a soundtrack in and of itself; the a e s t h e t i c is almost a synesthesia in the way that the medium and materiality of the sound is put to the fore (tape, glitch, obvious production interventions like jump-cuts). more on point, here's another dank album from this year:

:p

I pity you if you don't know Ulillillia.

And O.K., I think we're on the same page regarding vaporwave as a synaesthetic style. I think ambient music and certain attributes of vaporwave's song structures contribute to the openness/sense of place of the genre as well, to say nothing of the narrative ambitions of 2814, wuso, desert sand etc. I have no idea what you so eloquently called "dumb dumb."

I like VANITAS a lot, I feel terrible shitting on him in that Thank You For Holding review. Music for Museum Dates was O.K., the real star was his EP which I've listened to like twenty times this month.

 
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kliffi

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I pity you if you don't know Ulillillia.

And O.K., I think we're on the same page regarding vaporwave as a synaesthetic style. I think ambient music and certain attributes of vaporwave's song structures contribute to the openness/sense of place of the genre as well, to say nothing of the narrative ambitions of 2814, wuso, desert sand etc. I have no idea what you so eloquently called "dumb dumb."

I like VANITAS a lot, I feel terrible shitting on him in that Thank You For Holding review. Music for Museum Dates was O.K., the real star was his EP which I've listened to like twenty times this month.

ohh lol i meant gamerl0rds calling game music supreme and always flexing their sick gamer passion/knowledge is dumb dumb, but hey if you're gonna flex might as well go hard like Ulillillia loll thanks for the share!

also damn i hadnt heard this EP, so good!!
 
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EtymonLegomenon

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damn i hadnt heard this EP, so good!!
yep. I'm writing a best & worst vaporwave albums of 2020 to do as a video and an article, it blows my mind that Readymades is barely in the top 10 because the year was so good. feels like any other year it would almost be a sure-fire top 5.
 
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ChronosTheMad.mxtps

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just got this bad boy in the mail
 

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vaporghoul

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I'm writing a best & worst vaporwave albums of 2020 to do as a video
this would make a good vid imo. Not many really do a best and worst for vaporwave, or I just have never seen any lol
 
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