Subaeris – Shinjuku Underground – Meditation Chamber System Overload
Recommendation: ✂ (“Select Mode / Astral Projection Of Liquid Souls”)
Shinjuku Underground – Meditation Chamber System Overload (hereafter Shinjuku Underground) is the fourth full-length release from Subaeris, a futurist electronica project that incorporates elements of garage music, ambient, vaporwave, and dreampunk into a storied career that began back in 2012 and has shown few signs of stopping – an impressive accomplishment, given the one-and-done history of many early vaporwave artists and projects.1 Shinjuku Underground was first self-released in 2013 as a digital download through the Subaeris Bandcamp page, but it was later reissued in 2016 through Norwegian label Asura Revolver on which a physical release may yet occur.
Subaeris is no stranger to ambient music. Arguably more than any other vaporwave artist of the time of this album’s release, Subaeris was foremost in the community consciousness as a project that directly utilized ambient influences as the compositional foundation for his works. Shinjuku Underground is notable for taking this approach to a logical extreme within the realm of futurist cyberpunk music with four tracks in over eighty minutes of run-time. Subaeris would accomplish a similar feat with the release of The City in Rain in 2014, which was a nearly hour-long single-track composition; unlike that album, Shinjuku Underground is devoid of drone influence, instead taking an approach akin to the Brian Eno school of ambient music2 in acting as furniture music yet retaining clear progression through songs. Each track is split into slow yet distinct movements. For example, “Floatover Tokyo / The Neon Blur” has a point at which the sharp screech of keyboards immediately following a soft fade-out of synths shocks the listener back from any peaceful mood that they might have developed during the previous eight-and-a-half minutes. Both of these points contrast with the sustained tone-clusters that typifies drone music.
As with many other albums from 2013 through 2015 from dreampunk and ambient vaporwave artists, Shinjuku Underground paints cities and urbanlandscapes. It accomplishes this goal in two ways. Firstly, Subaeris occasionally utilizes field recordings that provide basic vignettes into the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, Japan. For example, the beginning of “Floatover Tokyo / The Neon Blur” features approximately one minute of police sirens that are juxtaposed with clam ambient tones. [PROVIDE SECOND EXAMPLE]. Secondly, Subaeris makes significant use of Vangelis-esque new age music that recalls the soundtracks of films such as Blade Runner and have since become ingrained in the popular consciousness as representing large urban expanses. Frequently, this takes the shape of layering multiple synthesizer chords on top of one another while a simple keyboard line is played on top. As the chords fade, other melodies and embellishments appear in a fashion slightly equivalent to cinematic cues. Occasionally, Subaeris makes use of slight distortion in the synthesizer lines to suggest tension – another example of the album’s similarities to Eno ambiance and Vangelis new age.
Shinjuku Underground – Meditation Chamber System Overload works well for background music as previously defined by Brian Eno. If you have exhausted the Dream Catalogue library of dreampunk and ambient music, then this album could give you more. Start with the eleven-minute opener “Select Mode / Astral Projection Of Liquid Souls” – it is the album’s strongest composition.
1. Select Mode / Astral Projection Of Liquid Souls – (11:44)
2. Floatover Tokyo / The Neon Blur – (24:32)
3. Removal Of The Dimension ‘Time’ – (22:40)
4. System Overload – Inside The Eye Of The Creator – (21:04)
1Lest we remember that FLORAL SHOPPE was, indeed, the only release from Vektroid as MACINTOSH PLUS. A lot of the early artists had a ton of projects but each under a different alias, which emphasized the anonymity and pseudonymity prized by the community at that time.
2I would totally enroll in this.