VAPORWAVE // 蒸気波

Album+artwork+of+%E3%83%95%E3%83%AD%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A9%E3%83%AB%E3%81%AE%E5%B0%82%E9%96%80%E5%BA%97+%28Floral+Shoppe%29+by+Macintosh+Plus.

Album artwork of フローラルの専門店 (Floral Shoppe) by Macintosh Plus.

Homer Arevalo, Staff Writer

Vaporwave is a genre that emerged in the early 2010’s. This genre was molded from the vaporwave aesthetic, which is a combination of 80’s culture, Japanese culture, pixelated images, glitch art, early graphic design, statues, and landscapes. The genre itself showed its first appearance when two seemingly distinct albums were merged together. Personally, I would describe the music as a digitalized version of funk, new age, and smooth jazz, mixed and edited to form a mellifluous tune.

The term vaporwave is an anomaly and quite pretentious within itself; it originates from the word vaporware, a business term which is used for a product that is announced the public but never released nor officially canceled, and a Marxist term to describe a perpetual repetition of ideals which are not concrete or meaningful in their philosophy. This is also described as waves of vapor.

In mid-2010, Daniel Lopatin, also known as Oneohtrix Point Never, an experimental electronic artist, released a mixtape titled “Eccojams Vol. 1,” under the pseudonym Chuck Person. This mixtape was composed of 80’s music with slowed tempos played on loops, giving a mellow, retro feel. It was originally released as a joke, something Daniel did for fun, but it accidentally turned into a small internet sensation.

In late 2011, an album with a completely distinct sound called “Far Side Virtual” was released by James Ferraro, he utilized a theme of internet culture influenced by a rapidly changing society to create digitalized upbeat and melodious tones which became an instant hit among this growing community.

Later that year, these two drastically different and perceptible albums came together to form an entire new genre. An album titled “フローラルの専門店,” also known as “Floral Shoppe,” was released by Romana Andra Xavier, also known as Vektroid, under the pseudonym Macintosh Plus. This is when vaporwave was born.

The theme in vaporwave is the critique and mockery of consumer capitalism. It’s an ironic statement, as it mocks people who steal art for their gain, when vaporwave in a nutshell is stolen 80’s music, slowed down and edited. People expected this “digital punk movement” to have died out by now, much like other genres born online like seapunk, witchhouse, or sadboys, but it still stands.

The “death of vaporwave” began when multiple albums were being released which instead of mocking the capitalistic ideals, embraced them. This created an all new market of vaporwave, which was ironic as it was led by an all-aesthetic consumeristic approach, the one thing it was mocking. This led to vaporwave receiving bad rep and endangering it on it becoming yet another shallow and meaningless genre.