Infinity Frequencies – Computer Death

Recommendation: ☀☀☁


Computer Death is the first of the Computer trilogy by Infinity Frequencies. The Japanese producer is one of the most prolific (and well-known) artists within “signalwave,” a loosely-defined subgenre of vaporwave that combines the listening appeal of hypnagogic pop with the cut-up microsong format of broken transmission while utilizing samples from old media. Like most of Infinity Frequencies’ material, Computer Death employs a strict curatorial format with minimal production effects outside of the sampling process; and for that, it is one of the most successful sample curation albums in the genre thus far.

These aren’t goofy R&B samples from your local strip; Computer Death is exceptional in its total eschewing of muzak or music. The album leads off with a dissonant piano and string melody, ominously titled “Hall of the Forgotten,”1 a fifty-second snippet that encompasses the obsolescence that is the theme of the trilogy. Some tracks sound like the background music to a loading screen, such as “As Darkness Falls;” or that of a midnight infomercial urging you to call now, as on “Pulses.” Many songs are of classical origin and use minor melodies, evoking sadness and despondency. Even the funky “Pulses” and “Withering” find their way to being pensive rather than head-nodding.

The production is muffled, as if the music is coming from the half-blown speakers of a Windows 98 desktop (e.g. “Occasion,” “Stone Mask,” and “Lotus Bloom”). Given the theme of decay, it’s immensely effective. Tracks have little bombast; it’s simple repeated snippets of five to ten seconds repeated for just as long as they need to be and no more – which is an impressive (and gutsy) choice, forcing the listener to pay attention for the sixty seconds or so that a song plays rather than lose focus.2 Quite a few tracks have an audible vinyl-crackle, such as “The Key;” or tape hiss, as on “Wisdom.”

The album is akin to a digital version of The Caretaker’s An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, except instead of phrases of melody from the twenties, it’s media that’s really only a couple decades old, but feels its age by way of the incredible rate of technological and cultural innovation. Computer Death takes snapshots of the thoughts of a dying computer as its circuitboard receives vague jolts of electricity upon the access of each new file, like how The Caretaker’s music elicits the process of memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients. It’s vaguely unsettling but comforting: brief moments that give a glimpse into the human side of the early information age that is all too often forgotten among the clutter. Infinity Frequencies’ ability to contextualize technological obsolescence as the death of an organic being is an impressive feat, even more so with the real pathos that permeates an album such as Computer Death.

 

Tracklist


1. Hall of the Forgotten – (0:51)
2. As Darkness Falls – (2:11)
3. Pale Skin – (1:38)
4. Unearthed Statue – (1:45)
5. Group Meditation – (3:45)
6. Mist – (1:02)
7. Entrance – (1:31)
8. Destiny – (1:09)
9. Blind Sword – (0:28)
10. Lifeguard – (1:07)
11. Pulses – (3:01)
12. Wandering – (0:57)
13. Draining – (1:35)
14. Footsteps – (0:42)
15. Winds – (1:08)
16. Lotus Bloom – (1:50)
17. Motsuji Temple – (0:55)
18. The Key – (0:57)
19. Stone Mask – (0:44)
20. Frozen Remnants – (0:36)
21. Liquid Diagram – (2:02)
22. Wisdom – (1:18)
23. TV People – (0:36)
24. Safety – (0:55)
25. Recovered Floppy Disc – (0:32)
26. Withering – (2:13)
27. Occasion – (1:53)
28. Majesty – (1:15)


 

1… perhaps a reference to the “Hall of Tortured Souls” Easter egg featured in Microsoft Excel 95.
2Fans of Wire’s Pink Flag might recognize this.

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