Sunday, 16 October 2016

Guilty Pleasures - Vaporwave/Simpsonwave

(Pic : via deviantart)

– a subgenre of ambient that emerged in the last few years - is supposedly a play on "vaporware"; hyped computer software (usually games) that are constantly in development by companies who promise major steps forward over rivals, but which never get released. It's also supposedly a reference to the Communist Manifesto that "all that is solid melts into air"....though I'm not sure about that.

So some interpretations suggest vaporwave is a deconstruction of the free market by using the images and sounds of commercialism to make a statement on the failed promise of capitalism and perhaps even the failed promise of the internet itself.

Also, as almost all vaporwave is based around chopped and looped samples, almost all of it is "stolen". So it also thumbs a nose at ownership of music by "stealing" music nobody really finds any value in (i.e. the type of muzak they play in shopping centres and shopping channels, when you're put on hold, cyberpunk Japan or 90s screensavers) and creating meaning and substance from something that has neither meaning or substance - usually linked to 80s and 90s nostalgia.

As it's perhaps the first genre of music to come entirely from the internet there's no "scene", live performances seem to be rare and absolutely anyone with a basic knowledge of programmes like Audacity can make it. As a result, it's  drawn comparisons to punk's DIY ethic.

Is that pretentious? Of course it is. Pretentiousness is when you give something more importance or meaning than it warrants and if there's anything that defines so-called Millennials – the people making and listening to vaporwave - it's pretentiousness.

Not all of it's like that. It's a joke and a meme too, but it stands apart by also often being....well, good....and I don't really care whether you're supposed to like it or not.

But where does The Simpsons fit into this?

Over the summer a number of vaporwave videos appeared with the music put to clips of The Simpsons.

There's nothing extraordinary about that in itself – and it's all a result of a single bored student – but when you add the 90s nostalgia, chopped editing and the eerie, slightly unsettling, vaporwave soundtrack it creates something magical even if it's all a big joke. I can't even explain why it works, it just does.