UNFR – Holy Forest
UNFR’s Holy Forest consists of a single seventeen-minute long track called “Scripture,” out on the experimental label TKX Vault (formerly known as Tokyo Exchange).1 The album is dreampunk, a specific style of ambient vaporwave that utilizes drone music as its musical foundation as opposed to chopped-and-screwed techniques, sample curation, or trap beats.2
Expectedly, Holy Forest has no percussion, and is entirely made of long progressions of synthesizer music and low-bass rumbles, correlating to early space music (e.g. Tangerine Dream, Steve Roach). This has quite a bit in common with vaporwave than what might initially be belied: space music is deeply interconnected with new age, lounge, and elevator music. To dismiss albums such as Holy Forest as being “not vaporwave” due to its topical non-association with the popular tenets of the genre is to ignore the very foundations of the genre itself – aesthetic or otherwise.
The track contains two parts that split at the (11:00)-mark. The first half is extremely droney, consisting of little more than slightly grating synthesizers that, despite their relative harshness, are not dissonant. The second half introduces bass with washes of gentle feedback that evolve into a cascade of twinkling electronic flourishes. Not only is it pretty, it’s entrancing; Holy Forest should’ve been longer or featured more tracks, because it simply ends too soon. But perhaps it’s also a good thing that it does: dreampunk – like any subgenre of ambient music – runs the risk of overstaying its welcome, where commentary on extension just ends up being monotonous, no matter how much its creators claim “that’s the point.” Tangent aside, Holy Forest makes for a concise edition to the ambient vaporwave fan’s library.
1. Scripture – (17:15)
2骨架的’s debut album Skeleton may be seen as the Ur-example of dreampunk, despite its short length.