luxury elite – III
Recommendation: ✂ (“into the great unknown”, “check it out”, “last moments of life”)
III is a misnomer title: it’s actually luxury elite’s fifth album but her third in the main line of releases. This “babewave” record follows a split with Mensa Group International. It’s filled with sample curation: each track is one or two minutes in length and features little of the classic-style chop/screw, a welcome change from the three-to-four minute long repetitions on a theme that wring every last drop out of their source material and plague sample curation artists who don’t yet understand that less really can be more. Several tracks cut off right when the vocals start (e.g. “flight” and “check it out”), a compositional technique that creates an interesting climactic effect as songs-in-themselves. Naturally, the shortest tracks are usually the best, as befits this production style.
Each song utilizes a lo-fi cassette aesthetic, as made semi-famous within the vaporwave community by luxury elite through the (currently defunct) Fortune 500 label. The basic format utilizes tempo-adjusted R&B and pop hits. Tracks have a muted hi-end that gives the impression of playback via degraded tape – not in a Disintegration Loops way, but like there’s just a bit of grime left on the device. This emphasizes the mid-range, making each track paradoxically punchy and muffled, especially when heard through noise-canceling headphones.
III is a fairly consistent album, which is a double-edged sword in sample curation. Many of these tracks are interchangeable with one another, and although that’s certainly part of the appeal of this kind of inconspicuous vaporwave, there are so many artists and albums that use this identical theoretical approach that the overall effect is watered-down even in its purposeful watered-downness. However, there are several stand-out tracks among the fifteen, and these are more than excellent additions to one’s “best of luxury elite” playlist – let alone a “best of vaporwave”. Of particular mention: the airy “last moments of life” track. From where did that thing come?!
1. lost in translation – (1:18)
2. into the great unknown – (1:20)
3. flight – (1:03)
4. check it out – (1:13)
5. the seeker – (0:56)
6. carousel – (1:58)
7. reflections – (1:39)
8. brittany – (0:56)
9. soft touch – (1:04)
10. kishi – (1:30)
11. citrus city – (1:18)
12. west coast dreams – (1:23)
13. us – (1:49)
14. last moments of life – (1:34)
15. sweet dreams – (2:42)