Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza – Transversal Worldwide Shopping
In 2013, Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza dropped a suite of genre-defining music on Ailanthus Recordings – and by no means is that qualifier casually used. The word “suite” is also used quite literally: Transversal Worldwide Shopping is the third Chapter to the artist’s series of conceptual works based in lo-fi hypnagogic renditions of popular media – to the point of not only unrecognizability but of obscurity – that began with In Construction and NTSC Memories. Contrary to the pop-song structure of the previous two works, Transversal Worldwide Shopping is two long-form tracks of mallsoft music that eschews PA-system aesthetic in favor of continuing the hazy hypnagogia of its predecessors.
Take the most ambient songs on NTSC Memories (like “Ash Haze II”), stretch them to their logical extreme, and edit them together – the result is a rough approximation to Transversal Worldwide Shopping. The album’s two songs are rough and staticky, filling a similar milieu as NTSC Memories in its timeless obsolescence. Whereas previous albums had recognizable samples if you listened closely enough,1 the ones on Transversal Worldwide Shopping are entirely obfuscated through clever pitch-shifting and tempo-screwing, as can be best heard in the backing melodies on the last half of “ISAL Networks”. And that’s assuming that they are samples at all; as with a lot of the Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza discography, it’s hard finding information on the exact process of composition.
There’s a comment on the Ailanthus Recordings bandcamp that calls this album “mall-drone”,2 and that has to be as apt a descriptor as any. Transversal Worldwide Shopping certainly utilizes the samplism of vaporwave, but the end result is a decrepit mix that’s closer to a William Basinski album than Market World by ショッピングワールドjp. Both tracks are full of artifacts that sound like the result of analogue degradation rather than digital manipulation. The accompanying text states, “if you want short music that changes, you’re looking for ambient”, and while the veracity of such an argument could be debated, it gives insight into the attitude behind Transversal Worldwide Shopping.
First track “Polydreaming Mall” opens with several minutes of a simple, slowed-down adult contemporary sample hidden beneath layers of distortion and a synthesizer chord progression that would make La Monte Young proud if it were isolated. The track slowly opens up as the indistinct fuzz dials down and the muzak dials up as some mindless mall-related field recordings understatedly play in the foreground, such as a child speaking to their parents at roughly the eight-minute mark. Every so often, a voice on the PA announces information about the mall, but as with the rest of the samples, it’s hard to pick out, emphasizing the surreality of the place. The final fourth of the track foregoes the adult contemporary sample in place of what could be rain falling or fire burning (or both), a change in the synthesizer keys in favor something darker, and a low bass rumble.
Second track “ISAL Networks” opens up with the same rain falling/fire burning samples as those with which “Polydreaming Mall” ended. The melodic samples here flow between diminished and minor, and they notably features a highly edited vocal sample that occasionally hits a tritone, giving this track a much darker texture than the previous one – or any of the other Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza tracks, for that matter. At around the five minute mark, the track adds a heavy breakbeat that works absolutely fantastically in context of the song, and given the last twenty minute of mall-drone, it comes as a complete but welcome surprise. This beat continues for about ten minutes and notably gets louder at the halfway mark. Other vocal samples drift through the mix and make occasional use of stereo sound effects in a way similar to “Midnight in a Perfect World” by DJ Shadow, fans of whom will be totally feeling whatever Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza is dealing here. The final fourth of the track ends with the beat and goes back into the ambiance of the first few minutes, although this time the rain falling/fire burning samples also die down to leave the synths and vocals to fade away into slow oblivion.
Transversal Worldwide Shopping is a good album. You should get it.
1. Polydreaming Mall – (16:52)
2. ISAL Networks – (20:46)
1Most notably, “He Can Only Hold Her” by Amy Winehouse on “Weather Scanning”.
2Shout-out to pizzicatiov!