One of the things that’s always fascinated me about “new age” music is how much of it really straddles the boundaries of taste. Look at the drone-heavy early work of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze and it becomes apparent that there’s a very fine line separating these often wildly experimental recordings from their later forays into shiny synth bliss. One of the key elements that often accounts for taste with this genre of music lies solely in timbre. Daniel Lopatin once referred to this phenomenon as “timbral fascism,” meaning that certain sounds were often looked at as being off limits because of their associations. As a result, Lopatin and other like-minded artists made it their mission to recontextualize these sounds within the context of underground experimental music.
However, vaporwave took this idea of opening up the timbral world of 80s/90s schlock to a whole new level. The artists slowed down and looped samples of some of the most openly disliked genres of New Age muzak in such a way that it was impossible to ignore the sound world. The only thing you could do was give up and be completely swallowed in it.
One of the foremost vaporwave artists is the prolific Will Burnett a.k.a INTERNET CLUB, who has now evolved into Wakesleep. A few weeks ago, Wakesleep released his first album, and boy does it ever make this question of taste and timbre interesting. Like many vaporwave records, not 2 far away relies heavily on repetition, but in this case, the sound sources and timbres are not always readily apparent. It seems that Burnett often takes the smallest sample possible and lets it repeat/warp into oblivion. As a result, the audio becomes completely removed from its original context and these once saccharine sounds become rather austere, sometimes even abrasive. Couple that with some truly startling uses of space and the results sound more like Jim O’Rourke or Toshimaru Nakamura than Macintosh Plus, proving that even the most “outdated” sounds have the potential to jar a listener when slightly altered.
You can stream and/or download not 2 far away via the link below.
• Wakesleep: http://www.facebook.com/pages/INTERNET-CLUB-FOLLOWCHILLWAVEGANG
• Ailanthus: http://ailanthusrecordings.bandcamp.com