INTERNET CLUB – REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE
If a major conceptual component of vaporwave is hyper-realism, then REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE is one of its greatest practitioners. Released in January 2012, Robin Burnett’s sixth album as INTERNET CLUB elicits the perfectly sterile and sterily perfect office environment of enterprise millennialism in seventy-five minutes. Here, the grass is the same green, the lights are the same white, and the sky is the same cloudless blue; an exercise in gorgeosity,1 but without the depth or spice that gives gorgeosity its meaning. Everyone can succeed here if they work hard, and why wouldn’t they?
REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE mixes new age music with modern electronica, occasionally using the samplism techniques of classic-style vaporwave but in a way far removed from FLORAL SHOPPE or DERELICTメガタワー.2 Burnett utilizes a wall-of-sound production style that foresakes brickwalling for the kind of enveloping ambiance that accompanies new age music playing in a waiting room.3 The goal is to evoke those environments but not to impress them upon the listener, which are two very different (but difficult to distinguish) goals. Each of the twelve tracks act as their own palette cleanser, with zero affect on behalf of the wholesomeness implied by such positive-sounding progressions.
In a genre so particular to half-hour full-lengths and EPs, REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE is one of the few albums that succeeds with the double-album format. This is greatly facilitated by the tight conceptual basis of the album. Paradoxically, everything on REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE is perfectly interchangeable yet distinct. The same new age free-floating goodness is everywhere. Gated reverb is a prominent element, as heard on “SYNERGIZE” and “THE NEW DIGITAL FRONTIER”. Techno and house music make appearances on “THE NEXT LEVEL OF INTEGRATION AND OPTIMIZATION” and “110%”, with special mention to the latter track for sounding like an after-party following a special promotion.
As with many old-school vaporwave albums, glitches play a prominent factor in composition. “GLOBAL CONNECTIONS” begins with lo-fi mono that sharply contrasts with the surround-sound on the rest of the album,4 providing one of the few sources of overt creepiness in an album that may be interpreted as subtle existential dread of work-as-life. “SYSTEM FOCUS” has several skipping effects, as if the CD has been stuck in the drive for a few years too long. “THE NEXT LEVEL OF INTEGRATION AND OPTIMIZATION” jump cuts to new sections that are part of the same composition but just a few seconds out of sync the previous sections. “110%” and “OUTSIDE THE BOX” include obvious signalwave cuts akin to Burnett’s other albums as INTERNET CLUB such as PURE TRANCE.
One common thread is oscillating stereo panning, of which “#SEO”, “THE NEW DIGITAL FRONTIER”, and “EFFICIENT OFFICE 2K12” make special use. That’s a potential source of annoyance that is entirely down to the individual listener. Those who enjoy this kind of dizzying effect will greatly enjoy this album (especially “#SEO”), but those who don’t might get serious motion sickness with how often it is exercised. It’s the only part of REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE that sounds gimmicky, simply due to its compositional focus on over half the tracks.
Conceptually, REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE succeeds in being utopian or dystopian depending on your bent. It could be the soundtrack to the greatest office environment in the history of developed industry that is full of smiling faces and chances for career development within an office environment curtailed toward You, or it could be Stepford Enterprises. Regardless, it is a masterful command of production, samplism, and ambiance within vaporwave and modern electronic music. Listen to it when prepping for your stakeholder interviews, as I did.
1. #SEO – (8:05)
2. TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE NEW WEB MARKETER – (4:18)
3. SYSTEM FOCUS – (4:32)
4. SYNERGIZE – (4:08)
5. UTILIZE YOUR IMPACT – (3:02)
6. THE NEXT LEVEL OF INTEGRATION AND OPTIMIZATION – (12:12)
7. EFFICIENT OFFICE 2K12 – (3:18)
8. OUTSIDE THE BOX – (5:34)
9. GLOBAL CONNECTIONS – (10:08)
10. 110% – (5:18)
11. THE NEW DIGITAL FRONTIER – (3:21)
12. REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE – (11:22)
1Is this even a word? Alex DeLarge said it, so I’m gonna go ahead and use it.
2There’s a theme here with all-caps.
3Psychiatric or otherwise.
4Yes, your headphone is plugged into the jack all the way.