death’s dynamic shroud.wmv – I’ll Try Living Like This
death’s dynamic shroud.wmv (hereafter “dds.wmv”) starts off with a quote from Kim Kardashian. If that isn’t ballsy, then what is? Vaporwave has always straddled the line between kitschy self-deprecation and hipster bullshit within the popular consciousness, and I’ll Try Living Like This sure as hell pushes that to the point where it straddles the line between straddling the line and not.1 Most of the best classic-style vaporwave albums revel in their self-awareness; I’ll Try Living Like This is meta-aware of the need to be self-aware. After all, this is the album that samples Sonic R – the nadir of the Sonic franchise, if that 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog title didn’t exist.
It’s not all irony though – and thank God for that. dds.wmv does some true crate-digging in its samplism. “Loving Is Easy” takes its chorus from a line off of “Criminal Shuffle” by Japanese darkwave artist Syoko from her 1986 extended-play Soil.2 It’s paired with top-ten single “Pon Pon Pon” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the video of which hit over eighty-five million views on YouTube in four years. Vaporwave enjoys celebrating, exploring, and – at least to some extent – living in the past, but I’ll Try Living Like This is startlingly in both past and present, synthesizing them in a way that isn’t quite the future.
But where “Loving Is Easy” is a club banger, immediate follow-up “Somebody Home” is an exercise in eclectic absurdism. Nelly Furtado’s lyrics to “Turn Off the Light” are contorted, wrung-out, and shifted in such a way as to represent R&B scat-singing; now imagine pairing that with dungeon music from The Legend of Zelda series.3 They’re melded together in a way that one would recognize each sample only if they were intensely familiar with the source material; intrepid listeners can have a bit of fun in identifying each song’s many Easter eggs.
It gets weird, too – really weird. “이보다 좋을 수는 없겠어” is like a slow-jam sang by an AI that’s played with one-too-many magnets. It’s wonderfully disconcerting with its multiple pitch-shifted, layered vocals and comparatively pastoral instrumentals. “CD Factory : 드라마” is mostly wordless, but about two-thirds through it gets positively orgasmic before anime samples begin to play to a clapping audience and an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. “CD Player pt III” is basically a vaporwave hip-hop track, but without any of the gimcrackery such songs typically provide; as with “Somebody Home,” the lyrics are totally unintelligible, and they fit well within the frenzy that is I’ll Try Living Like This.
This is not a human’s album. It’s not the android identity-crisis of チェスマスター’s I Am Chesumasuta or the digital vomit of テレビ体験’s Y.2089. It is a glimpse into a place where the organic and the digital aren’t just integrated, they’re not even distinct terms. I’ll Try Living Like This implores you to celebrate this world and all of its glitches4 with a glint that could be a twinkle of an eye or a flash from a lens.
1. 너 땜에 맘이 맘이 맘이 맘이 괴로워요 – (4:20)5
2. Loving Is Easy – (5:43)
3. Somebody Home – (4:24)
4. 혼자 남은 지금 꼴이 – (6:33)6
5. 이보다 좋을 수는 없겠어 – (4:31)7
6. CD Factory : 드라마 – (5:43)8
7. 시원한 파도소리 좋아요 – (5:44)9
8. 내 마음은 떨고 – (5:35)10
9. 그대 기억에 지쳐 잠들죠 – (1:54)11
10. 혼자 남은 지금 꼴이 (Reprise) – (2:50)12
11. CD Player pt III – (5:13)
12. 난 괜찮다고 또 웃으며 Good Bye – (7:00)13
1Basically, the first derivative of line-straddling.
2She pops up again on “내 마음은 떨고,” which samples “Erewhon” from the same album.
3It’s either Windwaker or Twilight Princess!
4… or are those mutations?
5Korean translation: “You like this like this like this like this in a distressed sufferer John”
6Korean translation: “Now the rest of us forage alone”
7Korean translation: “Rather, it would not be possible for better control”
8Korean translation: “CD factory: Drama”
9Korean translation: “I love the cool sound of the waves”
10Korean translation: “My heart is trembling
11Korean translation: “Baby’s asleep, exhausted her memory”
12Korean translation: “Now the rest of us forage alone (Reprise)”
13Korean translation: “I was fine again with a smile (Good-bye)”