GRΔP☰ T☰QUILΔ – BATTLE_FRONTIER
GRΔP☰ T☰QUILΔ1 joins the ranks of artists such as STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ who make use of (questionably accurate) Greek letters in their monikers. This album is titled BATTLE_FRONTIER, and it was the first ever release on California label Midnight Moon Tapes, which would one day be home to a diverse roster that includes Reef Frequent, Tech Noir, Chinese Hackers, and death’s dynamic shroud.wmv. It was also released on quite gorgeous transparent blue cassettes with “electric green splatter”, which were released in a small edition of twenty-five.
BATTLE_FRONTIER is a twelve-track release of hypnagogic drift with vaporhop elements – somewhat similar to that released by Rez and Oscob on their Virtual High trilogy. It is primarily inspired by and samples from video game music of the 90s and early 2000s, especially The Legend of Zelda. For example, the cover artwork is a screenshot of the Private Oasis from Windwaker, and two tracks sample from Ocarina of Time: “the sea of ゾーラ” takes from the theme of Zora’s Domain; and “デクのデク END” takes from that of the first dungeon, Inside the Deku Tree. The melodies are mostly simple and inoffensive, conducive to background listening – just as was intended by the creators of its source material. There are a couple points of garbled spoken word as well, but from where they are taken is anyone’s guess.
This release features a curious and somewhat frustrating mix of volume levels. For example, the waveform of “ブルー CHANNEL THEME PART I” is heavily gated compared to its immediate follow-up “悲しい CHANNEL THEME PART II”. This leads to the annoying necessity of having to adjust volume levels upon listening or else risk a sudden blast of music through one’s speakers or headphones. Additionally, many tracks here are nothing other than slowed-down samples of their source material, which is lazy at worst and unnecessary at best. In reference to the latter, the theme from Zora’s Domain is already exceptionally carefree and relaxing, so there’s little to nothing added by “the sea of ゾーラ” when the music already does just fine on its own. Nintendo 64 games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are absolutely ripe for a classic-style or hypnagogic drift treatment,2 but there has to be more to it than 80-percent speed. Given the nostalgic appeal of a lot of classic-style vaporwave, such samples have even more potential as vaporwave continues to grow and nineties culture becomes a more interesting source of “retro” styles.
Overall, BATTLE_FRONTIER is notable for taking utilizing video game soundtracks other than the ever-popular Donkey Kong Country soundtracks. With a bit more focus on creation and not just curation, this kind of stuff could have a wonderful place in vaporwave art and culture.
1. サンシャイン | ☼ – (2:51)3
2. ブルー CHANNEL THEME PART I – (2:10)4
3. 悲しい CHANNEL THEME PART II – (2:20)5
4. Untitled – (2:15)
5. 水を飲む | ♒︎ – (2:21)6
6. 甘い (HAPPY) – (2:47)7
7. 私と一緒に砂の中 | ♡ – (3:44)8
8. 涙 ☁︎ 大丈夫です – (2:23)9
9. dream_ランド.jpg – (2:37)10
10. ワカリマセン – (4:24)11
11. the sea of ゾーラ – (2:24)12
12. デクのデク END – (1:29)13
1… which sounds pretty delicious, but I admit to having ambiguous standards when it comes to tequila.
2Personally, I’d like to see someone do something with the Pokemon Snap soundtrack.
3Japanese translation: “Sunshine”
4Japanese translation: “Blue (Channel theme part I)”
5Japanese translation: “Green (Channel theme part II)”
6Japanese translation: “Drinking water”
7Japanese translation: “Sweet (Happy)”
8Japanese translation: “In the sand with me”
9Japanese translation: “Tears are ok”
10Japanese translation: “(dream_)land.jpg”
11Japanese translation: “Wakari risen”
12Japanese translation: “(the sea of) solar”
13Japanese translation: “Dek’s (end)” (I think??)