eーra – DIE-U
Recommendation: ✂ (“DISTRUPT (INTRO)”, “MY NOISE TANGIBLE”, “YOU SAY MISS”, “SEVENTH ELEMENT”)
If you go to the Bandcamp page for Luxury Sky District, you’ll see that every album released by the label is dated exactly twenty years prior to the actual release date. For example, DIE-U by eーra came out on 20 December 2015, but its album page says that it was released on 20 December 1995 instead. It’s those little things that make vaporwave music and culture so much fun; for LSD,1 it’s a firm commitment to the mid-90s aesthetic outside of album artworks or throwback artist names via something as innocuous as album release dates. That’s pretty cool.
DIE-U is a twelve-track album in a bit over a half-hour that explores glitchy, cacophonous classic-styele vaporwave. Although the term “classic-style” typically inspires thoughts of FLORAL SHOPPE by Macintosh Plus, the subgenre refers to a general approach to vaporwave that chiefly employs heavy sampling, chopped-and-screwed production styles, and glitch textures to recontextualize2 extant music and cultural practices. This doesn’t always mean that Diana Ross is slowed down 200 percent and some reverb is added to the mix (although it’s certainly an excellent and highly influential example); classic-style can be like “SELF DESTRUCTIVE” from this album where multiple samples are laid on top of one another and voices are distorted and scrunched together to sound like digital screaming. Or like “DISTRUPT (INTRO)”, which stutters along like the opening to “Zebra” by Oneohtrix Point Never on R Plus Seven.
Regardless of song quality (and there are some pretty select cuts in this work), DIE-U is a great example of the diverse potential of classic-style vaporwave. For example, eーra samples spoken word on several occasions. “ANALYSIS FACTORS (FOR JACK)” makes the heaviest use of such sources, describing the degradation of a planetary sample with varying levels of distortion and screw. “YOU SAY MISS” takes an ECCOJAMS-esque approach to samplism by repeating a half-measure of a pop song several times as if to deconstruct an earworm. In a weird self-subversion DIE-U goes straight-up stereotypical classic-style at the beginning of “SHOWS LIMITATIONS”, before overlaying a different repeating half-measure of adult contemporary music with some strange paranoid ramblings.
Weird? Hell yes – and weird with a purpose is even better.
1. DISTRUPT (INTRO) – (3:13)
2. DEAD IT CATION – (2:53)
3. HIGH AND NOID – (2:23)
4. NOT HURT – (2:31)
5. FOR KODI – (2:47)
6. SELF DESTRUCTIVE – (3:53)
7. MY NOISE TANGIBLE – (2:19)
8. ANALYSIS FACTORS (FOR JACK) – (2:46)
9. YOU SAY MISS – (2:49)
10. SHOW LIMITATIONS – (3:07)
11. SEVENTH ELEMENT – (2:52)
12. I SIN TOO (OUTRO) – (1:21)
2Internal pun totally intended. Am I clever or a dweeb?