Darksleep – Obviate

Recommendation: ☀☀☁

Darksleep is a household name among fans of early vaporwave for his debut release Identity Ender, an ECCOJAMS album that perhaps got the closest to Daniel Lopatin’s genre-codifying (and naming) album than any other. For most, it stops there, or it’s assumed that Darksleep would continue to explore classic-style vaporwave for the rest of his career. Well, like most vaporwave artists of the mid-2010s, Darksleep ended up exploring multiple genres and subgenres distinct from contemporaneous vaporwave, which culminated in the release of his third full-length titled Obviate. This album was originally released on 22 May 2015 (approximately eight months after Identity Ender) on cassette and digital format through Business Casual, a label owned and operated by chris†††. It was reissued in 2017 on vinyl in an edition of 200.

In contrast to the previous albums, Obviate adopted an entirely new aesthetic based in progressive electronica – a subgenre of electronic music that utilizes compositional techniques akin to the Berlin School1 and early new age music. Tracks are usually beatless in the usual sense, with rhythm created through looped fragments of original or sampled material. Works often feature nature samples or field recordings (e.g. “Palomino Lullaby”). Here, Darksleep embodies another comparison to Daniel Lopatin, whose early works as Oneohtrix Point Never (including) Betrayed in the Octagon and Zones without People) utilized similar tropes.

However, it would be unfair to imply that Obviate (and, by extension, Darksleep’s career) is simply OPN-lite. Obviate incorporates a variety of sampling techniques that are firmly grounded in the tropes of classic-style vaporwave, such as audible processing and a jump-cut aesthetic. For example, “Blemish Moon” features a signalwave-esque repetition of extremely short, lo-fi samples throughout its two-minute run, which is something that one would expect on an album by Broken Light instead of a progressive electronica work. This track gives way to more progressive electronica synthesizers, but the lo-fi samples remain strong as the main rhythmic element of the work. Another example may be found at the end of “Glimpse Back”, which incorporates a wall of discursive samplism that bears resemblance to the messier glitch-hop moments of I’ll Try Living Like This by death’s dynamic shroud.wmv.

Obviate may be a good album to recommend to listeners whose first exposure to vaporwave and modern cyberpunk music is chiefly FLORAL SHOPPE by Macintosh Plus or 新しい日の誕生 by 2814 – both of which are excellent albums but frequently overshadow much of what else the scene has to offer. Obviate merges vaporwave with progressive electronica in a highly evocative manner that unifies old and new electronic sounds without utilizing familiar sounds such as vocal samples or television advertisements. For the already initiated – if you find yourself enjoying the pictorial soundscapes of Dream Catalogue or Cyber Dream Records, then Obviate should make for a good addition to your library.



1. Precursor – (4:55)
2. Spectre – (3:30)
3. Palomino Lullaby – (2:56)
4. The 4th Chimera – (3:12)
5. Mistrust – (2:16)
6. Father to Another – (9:10)
7. Blemish Bloom – (2:16)
8. Access the Mist – (5:45)
9. Glimpse Back – (2:55)
10. Leaving So Soon – (3:50)


1Think Tangerine Dream and such.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *