Remember in 2010 when the internet was inventing musical genres. Everyone got to experience the simultaneous humor and frustration that came with the creation of these numerous micro-genres. There was witch House, one of these “internet genres” that immediately comes to mind, one which quickly transitioned into a legitimate genre as it glued itself to the future-garage and post-dubstep uprising. Then there was the one time use of the word “postinternet”, when Claire Boucher (AKA Grimes) described, in a write-up with ‘Interview Magazine’ in which she said “I think my sound is post-Internet” when she was asked to describe her style of bright left-field pop music. And then we also got to enjoy the sweet summery bliss of chillwave… and then autumn came. Oh and who could forget the most talked about of these genres, vaporwave, which vexed many an internet blogger who came upon it’s brash use of corporate imagery clashing violently against soft elevator lounge and of course its unmistakable ‘aesthetic’, which seemed to be an element that either equaled or at times felt more important than the music it accompanied.
But what exactly is vaporwave separate from the musical artists that chose to self-identify with the genre? Is it some kind of twisted politically infused art movement; it certainly seems to have a lot in common with the ‘Pretty Ugly’ revolution, at least aesthetically if not maybe a little bit conceptually as far as rehashing once popular media to make it kind of appealing, doing it in an ugly way but on purpose but also not on purpose (…sigh, you get it). Is it just a lazy version of plunderphonics and sampling? Is it post-digital? What the fuck does that even mean? What does any of this mean? Its a topic that has left music bloggers and critics sounding like fucking idiots every time they attempt to add some kind of context to vaporwave without sounding like they’re copy / pasting from a wikipedia article. Whatever vaporwave means to the artists who created music under its umbrella for the short time it was relevant (as far as relevancy goes for niche music), currently, vaporwave, much like the music it samples or steals from is a thing of the past.
Regardless, there are still musicians who continue to pump out warped elevator jams on soundcloud and tag it as such. One of these musician is Natsumi__San, who has only been active under that name for less than a month but has been a familiar presence on soundcloud, on this blog, and am internet mainstay, in some circles for some time. Natusimi__San is a side project of the one-man internet screamo / weirdo project, Heccra, who has been releasing some of the most creative shit that Topshelf Records wish it had released – but in other words has gone relatively unnoticed aside from the cult following he has achieved on the web. For me, the music that Heccra makes is really unlike anything I have heard. A friend once described his music as being akin to the Blood Brothers and Agoraphobic Nosebleed falling down a flight of stairs. If you don’t know who either of those bands are, its okay – I’m just rambling to fill space. Aside from being a great musician with an ear for short and catchy but equally eclectic songwriting, Heccra has never played a live show, remains mostly anonymous, and has been working on whats sure to be a masterpiece of an album for the past two years or so. Although, with working on something great comes distractions – albeit creative distractions nonetheless, which is what the anonymous artist’s new project, Natsumi__San seems to be.
On ‘√‘, an album whose title couldn’t be more internet, the artist explores electronic music. Although Heccra is no stranger to electronic music, the music itself featured many electronic synthy embellishments and tasty, glitchy effects, however, in this case with Natsumi__San the project is one that is purely electronic – which is kind of funny because the music that is being sampled may not be electronic at all but seems to be derived from early funk music with lots of groovy bass. This isn’t the first musician of this ilk to do this in terms of vaporwave and certainly not the first in electronic music but I must say, the content is actually pretty well crafted, especially when considering the appropriation of music when talking about vaporwave, the near sketch-esque feel some of the songs have – it isn’t present in the music here. What I’m getting to is that all of the songs sound pretty well thought out. They’re short but what more is there to say when your music is sampling and repeating the same parts of a song over and over with little to no in depth modifications. I guess you’d have dub music but what do I know.
The thing is the artists creating this music may or may not be thinking all that hard about what it means, what they’re trying to do – they could be just doing it just to do it and here we music bloggers are, sounding like we know our shit when in actuality Natsumi__San is just trying to make some music and not think too hard about what it means. Anyways this review is longer than the EP in which I’m writing about so…
Overall Rating: 5.5
Favorite tracks: ‘YΩU WXRXN’T 一人で’
Released: 26 September 2014