Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Macintosh Plus "Floral Shoppe" (2011)

This cult album crossed my path a while back as I learned of a new "Internet genre" called Vapourwave that emerged online a few years ago. Although the music is relatively unheard of in popularity terms, it comes under a fair amount of scrutiny in online discussions, often attributing its distinct values to intentional decisions in an attempt to create something new. The arguments against are futile in my opinion, what music is not created with intent? And what is wrong with wanting something new and different? It would seem most of this controversy extends from unjustified hate, but enough of that, Vapourwave has two sides of a coin, the image and the music. Firstly the art creates relatively warm and inviting imagery combining elements of 80s corporate image and consumerism with early 90s computer renditions. Neon, high contrast colors and Japanese text tie it together creating an interesting reassembly of nostalgic culture. The music is mainly characterized by reuse of 80s music, sampled, chopped and rearranged they are often pitch shifted down and mixed with drums and other airy instruments that feature a fair amount of reverb to create songs that re-imagine the core samples into dreamy, relaxed, laid back tunes that come across with a touch of nonthreatening ambiguity. 

Vektroid is the alias of the music producer behind this record. She hails from the USA and has been creating and distributing music online since the age of 14. Not much else is known about Vektroid, but her large output of music under many aliases has been consistently released over the years and "Floral Shoppe" has become her most popular released, cited as thee definitive Vapourwave album.

Controversy aside there was not a lot that can get between myself and the music. I wanted to find something new and interesting and I found just that. The vibe and character of this record is a unique mix of an almost alien reinterpretation of culture asserted in a chilled out and comforting manor. The nostalgic re-samples in pitch shifted form give a particular flavor the sometimes glitchy percussion reinforces. The airy synths and additional revebs help drive home the calm nature of the record. Its an enjoyable oddity, simple in design and fruitful in execution, "Floral Shoppe" offers something new and fresh, both in theme and texture.

The extent of how much the music leans on its samples is a point of discussion. Being completely unfamiliar with all the samples its hard to understand the balance with the original compositions. Either way I think sampling and the power to re-imagine music is a beautiful thing and not much different from tradition forms of influence through simply hearing other musicians. We stand on the shoulders of giants and anything that's reused for further enjoyment is a positive in my mind.

Having listened to this and a few other Vapourwave records I've gotten my feel for what its about and although this was a great record that offered something completely new it was not without its flaws. Not all the tracks rise the same level and as a whole the album can stretch a little, much more so with the bonus tracks from re-releases. The genre has potential and "Floral Shoppe" executes whats possible really well at times, just not consistently. Its truely worth checking out if you have an open mind for new music.

Favorite Songs: リサフランク420  現代のコンピュー, ライブラリ, Eccoと悪寒ダイビング
Rating: 6/10