chris††† – no lives matter
Album: no lives matter
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 10 March 2016
Label: Bedlam Tapes
- Orange cassette, edition 55 (Bedlam Tapes, 2016)
- Black cassette, unknown edition (Bedlam Tapes, 2016)
- Digital download (Bedlam Tapes, 2016)
- Compact disc, unknown edition (Bedlam Tapes, 2017)
- Transparent orange cassette, edition 55 (Bedlam Tapes, 2017)
Produced by chris†††,1 no lives matter2 is an entirely straightforward album: tempo-shifted R&B tracks, staticky melancholy, and a bit of club/techno-influenced original electronic material. It’s also one of the tightest releases in the entire scene: nowhere else – except maybe Replica by Oneohtrix Point Never – has any album demonstrated such textbook control over its source material. Even the degradation at the end of “judas inside” sounds entirely planned, with its staticky, destructive outro a result of the natural entropy of all things rather than messiness.
One of the goals of a good vaporwave album – insofar as what that loaded phrase means – is to recontextualize samples into a framework divorced from their original content to provoke, engage, or otherwise affect the listener, typically through using those samples as the basis for constructing songs that call attention to the editing process at hand. This is a much harder goal than may initially appear. Distorting a sample so it’s on the cusp of recognizability is easy (and fun!), but incorporating it into a larger conceptual framework – much less building a full album – is exceedingly difficult. Even more difficult is marrying those samples to an artist’s own material so as to appear seamless, as if these were how the tracks were supposed to sound all along.
Some vaporwave does very well at highlighting the editing process as a work of art in and of itself: take Chuck Person’s ECCOJAMS Vol. 13 for example. It’s obvious from the very beginning that these tracks are pop samples, even if one does not recognize the source material; but the appeal of ECCOJAMS (and its eponymous subgenre) is in how these tracks can be deconstructed, violated, and retextured. no lives matter succeeds because not only does it have its own fair share of engaging, minorly fourth-wall-breaking editing techniques (e.g. “lying to ourselves” and “no end”), but each track is also a legitimate fully-fleshed out song. These aren’t simple experiments or results of curation: they’re songs to which one can listen for the sake of their musicality, not just a demonstration of editing techniques. If you’re unconvinced, just let “esc” rock you to sleep with its oscillating chorus and dubstep-bass underpinning; or dance along to the breakbeat sisters “what feeling” and “trudging on emotionless.”
That’s not to say that no lives matter doesn’t have its own share of experimental moments, because it certainly does. “ytp death” references YouTube Poop4 videos by which videos would be mashed-up to provoke humored or shocked (often both at once) reactions from the Internet audience. And shocking it is: that’s not a track to which one should listen with young children around, especially with the video game freak-out about halfway through; like an Adult Swim radio program. It’s a nice, not-at-all subtle nod to modern digital culture without being heavy-handed, and serves as a commercial break between no lives matter‘s musical halves.
no lives matter‘s clever utilization of modern trends, vaporwave editing techniques, and club/breakdown textures makes it a fascinating and sonically awesome listen. Rather than simply dust off the old motherboard, chris††† gave each connection careful spit-and-polish to create crystal-clear sounds with some of the freshest production choices this side of HKE. Perhaps it is too early to call it such, but no lives matter certainly has the qualities of an album whose status could eventually reach that of “timeless.”
(Puedes leer esto artículo en español aquí.)
1. offline – (1:36)
2. judas inside – (4:13)
3. what feeling – (1:07)
4. trudging on emotionless – (2:47)
5. i can’t remember his voice – (2:16)
6. ytp death – (4:15)
7. he left – (0:26)
8. emptyness surroundning – (1:42)
9. lying to ourselves – (2:38)
10. esc – (2:47)
11. i am death – (3:46)
12. no end – (9:50)
1Owner and operator of Business Casual.
2What a topical title!
3Yeah, I know, I talk about this album all the fucking time, but its influence and relevancy is undeniable.
4… hence the name.