General Translator – CONTEMPORARY
General Translator was one of the most engaged members of the community in vaporwave’s adolescence from 2012 to 2014, after which he took a three-year hiatus1 before returning with 2017’s OPERATION ETERNAL ECSTASY. This artist produced music for a variety of labels including the short-lived Tinnitus1 – of which 2013’s CONTEMPORARY is the most well-known. CONTEMPORARY was reissued on physical and digital formats via Bedlam Tapes. General Translator also keeps an updated guide to vaporwave subgenres as Harley_Magoo, which is mentioned in our “Guide to Vaporwave Guides article.
CONTEMPORARY is a classic-style vaporwave album. Its fifteen tracks are relatively simple, featuring short fragments of muzak, adult contemporary, jazz, and pop media with occasional lo-fi production that evokes the PA-system effect of mallsoft music. Some songs focus on high-range frequencies, such as “HIGH FASHIONHIGH STAKESHIGH DREAMS支持を求める—-“. Most songs are instrumental, but several (e.g. “POWDERグラマーなhｈｋｅ”) incorporate repetitions of choruses and bridges with a slightly-audible jump cut at the looped mark. The mid-tempo percussion of a few tracks (e.g. “Shimonoseki ,;Ｃｏｍｆｏｒｔ Ｗｏｍａｎ;,✰”) incorporates a vaporhop and house music feel.
Nine songs last for under two minutes; these act as short vaporwave vignettes in a manner not unlike J Dilla instrumentals. This approach would become quite popular following 2013, which artists such as Infinity Frequencies and artists on Evaporated Sounds utilizing it in creating the “signalwave” aesthetic. The album’s presentation utilizes a mix of Japanese characters, alt-codes, full-width characters, and standard English, which reflects the cultural mish-mash explored by vaporwave artists at this period in time – most famously, ▣世界から解放され▣ from INTERNET CLUB.2
These compositional techniques lend to CONTEMPORARY being one of the most “classic-style” albums on Bedlam Tapes, in addition to it influencing the sound since explored by Bedlam Tapes founder OSCOB on releases such as Eating Yourself Alive and in his collaborations with Rez in the Virtual High series. Whether or not this influence is a conscious one (or if General Translator is part of a myriad of influences) is outside the scope of this article, but CONTEMPORARY certainly deserves a spot in one’s classic-style vaporwave playlist, as well as an historically important album that links together different vaporwave trends that would be explored through the rest of 2013 and beyond.
1. FreshCoke©AHH — Ｕｍａｍｉ – (0:57)
2. HIGH FASHIONHIGH STAKESHIGH DREAMS支持を求める—- – (1:48)4
3. VSJRP(DATE).wav – (1:30)
4. POWDERグラマーなhｈｋｅ – (1:11)5
5. Shimonoseki ,;Ｃｏｍｆｏｒｔ Ｗｏｍａｎ;,✰ – (1:41)
6. ＳＰＩＲＩＴ悲しい数et雨’ – (2:36)6
7. Excellent Flight. Class – (3:31)
8. requiem for Ａｍｏｒｏｔｉｃａ (fufufufu) – (0:58)
9. 毅然とした,,, – (2:18)7
10. 防府マネキンＥｘｐｏ．#1 – (3:29)8
11. &&& VIRTUATEARs 4U}-Ｓｅｉｋｏ Ｐａｇｅｒ[©] – (1:41)
12. 音のL I M I T S ܔ৶ – (1:09)9
13. oɿɿəɥ ＹａｋａｓｕｎｉＴｏｕｒｉｓｔＧｒｏｔｔｏ – (1:15)
14. @居心地のよいＤｒＭｉｓｈｉｍｕｒａ’ｓ Ｂｕｎｇａｌｏｗ – (2:41)10
15. ｄｅｊａ _ｕ／ａｍｂｕｌａｔｏｒｙ ｎｅｔｈｅｒ – (5:14)
1As General Translator. He released a couple albums as Immaculate Anticipation in 2015 and 2016.
2I’m sure someone’s reading this thinking “man what I wouldn’t give for short-lived tinnitus”.
3Presenting as ░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░.
4Japanese translation: “(High Fashion High Stakes High Dreams) Ask for support”
5Japanese translation: “(Powder) Glamorous (HKE)”
6Japanese translation: “(Spirit) Sad (et) rain”
7Japanese translation: “Resolved”
8Japanese translation: “Hofu mannequin (Expo #1)”
9Japanese translation: “Sound (Limits)”
10Japanese translation: “Cozy (Dr. Mihimura’s Bungalow)”