Artwork: ‘How to Vaporwave’ by matheusrosa94

Usually you’re getting big think-pieces from me myself, focused on the cultural background, history and future of the genres that we blog. But now I stumbled upon a brilliant short-doc from a relatively unknown Youtuber called Wolfenstein OS X, that brings up some very important points which aren’t relevant only for vaporwave but for the whole of today’s music culture, including the scenes and movements we are involved in.

Vaporwave is the core genre of what I’ve been referring to in earlier posts as the (post-)internet underground: a universe of micro-genres of music, usually with specific 90s web-art inspired visual aesthetics attached to them, that emerged and spread entirely via the internet’s cultural grinding mills such as Tumblr, Reddit and the controversial 4Chan music board /mu/. It were these dynamics online that enabled yearly waves of hyped music movements since the turn of the decade, completely isolated from the attention of the blogosphere.

While Generation Bass and neighbouring blogs moved from introducing Balkan beats, baile funk, kuduro, 3ball & cumbia (2009), to moombahton (2010), zouk bass, tarraxo & electro chaabi (2013), gqom & jungle terror (2014), the internet underground presented witch house (2010), seapunk (2011), vaporwave (2012), memerap / sadboys (2013) and bubblegum bass (2014).

While the blogosphere uses the web to give instant access to places all over the world, the internet underground plays with elements from different time periods, especially the 80s and 90s and the early years of the internet, decontextualising and reassembling information from the web into something completely new.

But Wolfenstein can explain it much better than I do, check it out!

The doc raises a lot of questions. Is it true that the web has indeed become truly globalised and that place does no longer matter, or is vaporwave a deeply Western reflection on an era in its own history, saturated with mall shopping, advertisement and the promises of an e-paradise from before the Dot-com bubble, now remebered with a mix of nostalgia and unease? If music on the web has indeed become endless stream of information without context, origin or authorship, does it make a difference if not an obscure underground producer is rewrapping a song from another time, but the mainstream music industry?

The history of vaporwave challenges the idea of what scenes and genres are and even music itself. It questions why and how people listen to music in a time where the web, its abundance of information and its algorithms have made it impossible for a single cultural movement to define an entire generation as it did in the past. And it shows that for a genre to survive after being hyped, it is essential to diversify and reinvent itself. The thing that keeps fascinating me about vaporwave is that it says equally much about the recent past, about the present and about the near future. And because the global club blogosphere and the internet underground, two of the most important innovative movements in today’s music cross paths more often in the near future, it is essential to be aware of this.


Featured music:

Diskette Romances Fentanyl Flowers
Kenny G Songbird
Chuck Person A1
James Ferraro Palm Trees, Wi-Fi and Dream Sushi
Macintosh Plus リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー
B L U E \\ Visual \\ // Entropy //
Internet Club BY DESIGN
░▒▓【ALL CAPS AND αւτ kεÿ CΘᕸEᔕ™】░▒▓ DAE le 90’s Kid
骨架的 life
Blank Banshee Ammonia Clouds
Infinity Frequencies Lotus Bloom
Eco Virtual Cumulus Fractus
Hong Kong ExpressYour drink, sir 鸡尾酒酒吧
식료품groceries Aisle 3 (Summits, Clouds, and Greener Grass)
Saint Pepsi Cherry Pepsi
マクロスMACROSS 82-99 水野 亜美AMY
Yung Bae Bae City Rollaz (w/ИΔΤVИ)
Disconscious Endless Escalation
猫 シ Corp. B5 – Second Floor
死夢VANITY nightlife
2814 恢复

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