[Feature] Channeled Era’s Top 10 Favorite Vaporwave Albums of 2017 (Q3)
Ever since the start of the new year, I have been ranking as many vaporwave or vapour albums as I can that have been released in 2017. We’re past the halfway point and are almost reaching the end of the year, so here’s some of my personal favorites from July, August, and September. Note that I will not be including my new album with Claudia, which I’ll mention at the end of this post. This list is purely just to promote other people’s work other than my own. Let’s begin!
#10: Vincent Remember – Culture Vulture; D$ – Downtown
Kicking off the list is a double entry of two footwork/vapor hybrids, both from returning artists previously known through their records on Bedlam Tapes. The former is Culture Vulture on Bedlam Tapes, a collection of jersey club loops with consistent tempo and fun, danceable beats in an attempt to fuse jersey club with vaporwave. The latter is Daniel Saylor’s self-released footwork EP, released shortly after the announcement of his upcoming debut album on Bedlam Tapes, for which I am undoubtedly excited. While less vapor than Culture Vulture, it features great vocal clips from Impath, a collaboration with the awesome Catlights, and an Argiflex remix that’s definitely worth a listen. Both of these are brilliant footwork albums that will get your blood pumped for the rest of this list.
#9: Giant Claw – Soft Channel
Returning to us with a sequel to Deep Thoughts and its predecessor Dark Web, Keith Rankin brings to us a new collection of eight mind-boggling sound collages. In this, he shows a new style of such works that shows a contrast to the aforementioned two albums with MIDI elements included to blend in a more original tone with the already sample-chop heavy sequences, while also maintaining a more ambiguous and at times silent atmosphere than usual. This is a fine third installment to a trilogy of Internet albums that is surely not worth a miss.
#8: Reef Frequent – Unknown System Boundary
After releasing his self-titled trilogy on BLCR laboratories, Reef Frequent returns with a new album on Midnight Moon Tapes with a plethora of synths, coupled with wicked beats and old school PC gaming vibes that bring a sense of mystery that in itself it hard to detail. With inspirations from Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven, this album takes in all kinds of samples while still bringing original works and overall maintaining simplistic production within a digital dungeon that I ask you explore for yourself to catch the details of this experience.
#7: HKE – Sequence 777 (SQ777 1-4)
Yeah, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna have to mention all the first four parts on HKE’s currently ongoing series of seven hardvapour albums, consisting of seven tracks each, and released on seven different labels. Starting with No Man Is God, we get a soft start on the journey with a few grooves and even a melancholic cover at the end, while still featuring some hard hits that present a sense of mystery to kick us off. Then Heel Aesthetic immediately attacks us with the hardest of hardvapour we’ll come to expect in this series. Followed by Emotionless Passion and later High Kinetic Energy, we have a contrast of the two albums between the clean and the gritty hardvapour. So far, even during HKE’s recently announced hiatus, this series is going strong with the first half of the series having each album with different characteristics only you must see for yourself.
#6: Catlights – Triangle
While this music was made in 2010, long before vaporwave took off as a genre, as .mp3Neptune witnessed the rise of hardvapour, he thought it would be great to release this album under a previously ambient alias on a small vapor label while it’s still growing. With this, we get Triangle, one of the best hardvapour albums I’ve ever heard. The record also blends in vaportrap in terms of instrumentalization, and it even has very sample-based tendencies to manipulate the source in various creative methods. This album is absolutely incredible as both a hardvapour album, a vaportrap album and a plunderphonic album. It is an absolutely brilliant EDM album that’ll have you coming back for more.
#5: OMI5 – Flowers
Bringing more love to the vaportrap scene (as it deserves) comes a fresh Italian talent on Business Casual. OMI5 has already released brilliant stuff on Sunset Recordings and continues to stay strong to the awesome subgenre. This gorgeous release has some of the most beautiful melodies and incredible sample chops, resulting in vaportrap beauty that’s melancholy yet wholesome and also very engaging to listen to. I dare ya to not dance to any of them, I dare ya. With collaborations from synthwave artist bl00dwave and fellow vaportrap talent R-ODD, this is one the best vaportrap albums I’ve heard this year and I implore you to not sleep on this fantastic work of art. OMI5 is a growing yet very talented trap artist that shan’t be ignored by the vaporwave community.
#4: Renjā – Titania of the North
After a long while, we finally get to see Renjā release another album, the first album of his to which I’ve listened, and one that I absolutely love. This record is nothing but pure bliss; it’s an absolutely serene work of art and a naturewave album like no other. One that is of sample based masterworks that bring about various emotions: peace, sorrow, love, rush – all in a fast-paced series of hip-hop beats and sped-up samples that you don’t commonly hear a lot of in the vapor world, but when it occurs, it just works. With several short tracks, it’s ambient yet upbeat and it never fails to make me smile. Please listen to this, you will not regret it, and you will have as much difficulty picking a favorite track as I have.
#3: death’s dynamic shroud – Heavy Black Heart
You can’t go wrong with death’s dynamic shroud, not even once. The legendary NUWRLD trio of James Webster, Tech Honors and Keith Rankin finally team up to create the group’s first three way collaboration, and it rules! As one of the most poppiest albums in their discography, you take the glitches, stutters, chops and pauses from James and Keith resembling their previous effort in the famous I’ll Try Living Like This plus Keith’s Giant Claw project, and you also get the vaporwave sample genius work of James and Tech with modern pop and kpop samples that are easy to dance to. You cannot deny that the union of these three producers truly curates a masterpiece.
#2: hyphyskazerbox – Rejection Vignettes (And Other Somber Ideas)
One of my favorite producers of all time returns to the iconic vaporwave label Business Casual to bring about one of the most insane and inherently fucked up records to which I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening. From the insane sample manipulation and fun jazzy rhythms to the noise interludes and bouncy electronic dance beats – not to mention the most relaxing yet unsettling loops. This album is an exciting adventure that takes you everywhere, from places you’re familiar with to territories you’ve never set foot on. It’s all over the place, yet at the same time it’s coherent and flows brilliantly. It brings you an experience like no other and will not leave you the same, and I love it! Check this record out.
#1: Nmesh – Pharma
Could this be any more obvious than it already is? The one album to top this list is none other than the long-awaited return of a vaporwave titan that never backs down from giving the local listener a surreal experience. Sampling from 1970’s funk to 2010’s pop, old school movies to news reports and commercials – even going so far as to sampling his own old home videos if I heard correctly – Nmesh knows no bounds as to how he delivers an astounding experience of drug-centric nostalgia that vaporwave was born for as a genre. It goes even further than that, as the album constantly shifts between vaporwave, ambient, big beat, jungle and even a spoken word poem (narrated by the internet’s busiest music nerd himself) that’s implemented into a track that was made to purposely make people vomit.1 This original album is a phenomenal work that takes you everywhere and leaves you with not a bang but a whisper, before the length of the album later doubles with several remixes of more talented producers you all know and love. This is one of the biggest albums in vaporwave to come out this year, and it surely deserves the #1 spot on this list.
If you want to keep updated on my favourite vaporwave albums of 2017, check out this document!
Before I go, I wanna talk to you all about my new album TEXXXT under the duo alias of BOYYY & GIRLLL. Claudia (formerly known as matdmoon) and I have been collaborating and working on this record with combines the forever-undefined genres of netband and NUWRLD. Be sure to check it out below!
Thank you all so much for reading this, and I hope to see you in future articles here at Sunbleach!
1I’m not joking. https://www.facebook.com/alex.koenig1/posts/10210199121394341