Phoenix #2772 – Experience
Experience is the eleventh overall release1 and first of 2016 for Miami, Florida artist Phoenix #2772, a Dream Catalogue alumnus who for some time was a co-owner of the Elemental 95 label. It was co-released in June 2016 by Elemental 95 and No Problema Tapes. The Elemental 95 release was solely on digital format, whereas the No Problema Tapes release included an edition of fifty clear cassettes. The labels used different album artworks, with the former having a hyperrealist rendering of a luxury apartment (similar to Dreams by Winter Sleep) and the latter having a purple-colored staticky photo of a city.2
Much of Phoenix #2772’s discography blurs the line between sample curation, classic-style vaporwave, and late night lo-fi. Albums such as The Dream Catalogue feature mostly unedited samples of adult contemporary or jazz music, but with a certain amount of equalization and production overlay that presented the album as a cohesive suite of evening music. In contrast, Experience opens the door to new sounds by incorporating elements of hypnagogic drift into the mix. Tracks have a misty affect that incorporates more of a dreamlike atmosphere than its named predecessor, akin in feeling to circa-2014 telepath albums if substantially different in the actual music.
Experience is constructed out of long, repeating sections and other small fragments of extant music that is structured to create a narrative of class and culture. One highlight is “Her Gaze”, an eight-minute instrumental early on in the album that has a mid-tempo repetitive nature with smooth jazz and new age elements that sounds extraordinarily similar to Weather Channel music that plays behind a local forecast. The track features a slight delay that gives it an airy texture.3 “Stargazing” is another longer track (seven minutes this time) on which Phoenix #2772 utilizes phaser in a manner similar to 2814 on 新しい日の誕生, giving the relaxed instrumental a romantic feeling. It is possible that this romance is one that is bought and sold – given the commercialized appearance of the album artwork – but the genuine bliss present in the samples precludes irony.
The album features several moments of straight classic-style vaporwave. “Oh Baby” is prototypical pitch-/tempo-shifting of a rhythm-and-blues love song, which follows up the languid “Her Gaze” with a good amount of vaporwave sex appeal. The last six songs – from “Room 205” to “Phoenix” – are splintered bit sessions that feature more uptempo jazz numbers; penultimate song “Trains” brings back the phaser for the heaviest utilization of it in the whole album. These tracks being toward the end serve as a wake-up call after the fanciful evening provided by the other nine, which works better than if they were interspersed in between the more hypnagogic jams.
On its face just a classic-style album with some loopy tendencies, Experience incorporates a variety of sampling styles to achieve its goals of evoking a quixotically high-class idealist but human lifestyle. Phoenix #2772 demonstrates that the style of classic-style vaporwave was by no means dead come 2016, and that the object of sample curation involves careful production choices to engage the listener in the world that the artist wishes to create. From the furniture music loopings of “Her Gaze” to the funk-bass of “Pheonix”, Experience is a stellar experience, and it is some of the best that classic-style vaporwave has to offer the scene past its initial wave.
1. Intro (Experience 4K) – (0:34)
2. Wake Up – (5:07)
3. Her Gaze – (8:03)
4. Oh Baby – (3:54)
5. A Dream – (1:08)
6. Just Love – (4:00)
7. Rainy Nights – (7:29)
8. Sweet Dreams… – (5:16)
9. Stargazing – (6:58)
10. Room 205 – (1:46)
11. Pump! – (2:18)
12. Showtime – (2:06)
13. Geneva – (1:01)
14. Trains – (2:17)
15. Phoenix – (3:01)
1… and our eleventh album article of 2018.
2This article uses the No Problema Tapes’ version.
3Am I discussing vaporwave or wine?