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Satire, cyberpunk, punk, alternate history, cyberculture, Hyperreality
Chillwave, plunderphonics, lounge, Chopped and screwed, elevator music, smooth jazz, early-to-late 1980s dance-pop, EDM, R&B, and various other types of commercial music
|Cultural origins||Early 2010s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Audacity, SoundForge, Ableton Live, programming, sampler|
Vaporwave is a musical genre that has emerged in the early 2010s from indie dance genres such as seapunk or chillwave, and, more broadly, electronic dance music, as a satirical genre serving both as a critique of consumerist society and the '80s yuppie culture, and a parody of New Age music.
Style and origins
Vaporwave is characterized by its heavy use of samples from '80s lounge, smooth jazz and Muzak. These samples are altered in various ways such as slowing down, layering, pitching down and chopping up in order to create vaporwave music.
When presenting the music visually through videos and jacket art, vaporwave artists draw on early internet imagery such as glitch graphics, late-90s web design, outmoded computer renderings and cyberpunk aesthetics. Japanese characters are also prominent, evoking Japan's image in cyberpunk works as an advanced capitalist society.
The genre emerged in 2011 from Internet connections, such as Turntable.fm. In subsequent years, it gained popularity through websites such as Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Last.fm and 4chan. Chuck Person's 2010 release, Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol.1 and James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual are regarded as a "catalyst" for the development of the genre.
Vaporwave is generally interpreted as a dystopian critique of capitalism along lines similar to cyberpunk. Christian Ward of Stylus stated that "vaporwave is a reflection of soulless techno-corporatism." The genre was also described as "ironic and satirical or truly accelerationist" by Adam Harper of Dummy Magazine, who argued that the term "vaporwave" itself is also reminiscent of a passage from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, "all that is solid melts into air." Vaporwave musician 情報デスクVIRTUAL, alias of musician Vektroid, described her album 札幌コンテンポラリー as “a brief glimpse into the new possibilities of international communication” and “a parody of American hypercontextualization of e-Asia circa 1995." Another vaporwave artist, inspired by the French Situationist movement, describes his work as a degrading of familiar commercial music in an attempt to reveal the "false promises" of capitalism.
- Harper, Adam (December 5, 2013). "Pattern Recognition Vol. 8.5: The Year in Vaporwave". Electronic Beats. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Lhooq, Michelle (December 27, 2013). "Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?". Vice (magazine). Retrieved April 10, 2014.
- Szatan, Gabriel (July 22, 2013). "Interview: CFCF on New Age, Japanese Music and the Almighty Panpipe". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
- Galil, Leor (February 19, 2013). "Vaporwave and the observer effect". Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Lhooq, Michelle (December 27, 2013). "Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?". Vice. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Ward, Christian (January 29, 2014). "Vaporwave: Soundtrack to Austerity". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Parker, James. "Datavis + Forgotten Light Prism Projector". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Blanning, Lisa (April 5, 2013). "James Ferraro - Cold". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Bowe, Miles (October 13, 2013). "Q&A: James Ferraro On NYC’s Hidden Darkness, Musical Sincerity, And Being Called “The God Of Vaporwave”". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
- Gatekeeper by Exo. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Harper, Adam (December 7, 2012). "Comment: Vaporwave and the pop-art of the virtual plaza". Dummy. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- "情報デスクVIRTUAL - 幌コンテンポラリー". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2014.