Casino Gardens – Casino Gardens
Casino Gardens’ self-titled album probably wouldn’t be attached to the vaporwave scene but for three reasons: 1) its release on the Beer on the Rug label, which hosted many of the well-known early vaporwave releases;1 2) its retro and super low fidelity; and 3) its faux-utopian framing. It’s actually the first album in the history of Beer on the Rug – at least, according to the currently listed albums on its bandcamp page. The project is that of Byron Ferrari of Ohio, who created Casino Gardens to explore the violent, seductive history of a fictional Floridian casino set in the mid-eighties where “couples leaving trails of sunscreen and blood” amidst the local skateboard gangs.
Originally released in a cassette run of 200, Casino Gardens is a chimera of indie rock, garage neo-psychedelia, and vaporwave. It doesn’t utilize sampling and katakana makes no appearance; but there’s a certain flavor attached to Ferrari’s Casio keyboards and ridiculously lo-fi aesthetic that one may interpret a similar vibe. Be it the radio interference of “On the Stereo” or the tropical feel of “Soda Cans,” Casino Gardens is like vaporwave’s burnt-out beach-bum sibling. However, the whole theme of gang warfare and “easy sliders” isn’t one that’s easily uncovered, even after reading the text that comes with the album.
Casino Gardens is a cool concept; there are very few that use original rock music as a base to explore the same themes as aspects of vaporwave. Other than Ducktails, not much compares; however, the hypo-fidelity production will polarize listeners. Some will be entranced by the sand-in-the-stereo sound, while others will find its extraordinarily low quality production to be unlistenable. Sure, it’s questionable that this album should even be mentioned in the same breath as “vaporwave,” but its presence at the early part of one of the genre’s most recognizable and influential labels justifies its historical value, although its listening appeal is dubious.
Those who purchase Casino Gardens from Beer on the Rug will receive an additional six bonus tracks; from Casino Gardens’ bandcamp page, three. Of these, “Portable Cassette Outtakes 1” is the best: it actually sounds like an old cassette played in an even older cassette player. Sure, it’s been done before, but here it’s done well.
1. Get It Right – (3:21)
2. Silicon Hill – (0:55)
3. On the Stereo – (2:34)
4. Bedroom Racetrack – (2:17)
5. Casino Gardens – (2:16)
6. Kihyui – (2:31)
7. Memories at Night – (1:02)
8. Soda Cans – (2:24)
9. Finding You in the Plaza – (3:11)
10. So Slow – Wireframe Island Platform – Try Again – (3:11)
11. Game Over – (0:51)
12. Gonna Give It to Ya [Bonus Track] – (2:03)
13. Casino Gardens [Extended Version; Bonus Track] – (3:04)
14. Portable Cassette Outtakes 1 [Bonus Track] – (8:00)
15. Portable Cassette Outtakes 2 [Bonus Track] – (0:42)
16. My Tokyo Pinball [Marc Summers Super Sloppy Double Dare remix] – (1:50)
17. Spring Yard – (2:21)
1E.g. Macintosh Plus, Midnight Television, and YYU.