[Feature] Channeled Era’s Top 5 Favorite Vaporwave Albums of 2017 (Q4)
Ever since the start of the new year, I have been ranking as many vaporwave or vapor albums as I can that have been released in 2017. We’re finally at the end of the year, but before I announce my top ten favorite vapor albums of all of 2017, I feel I should continue the tradition of quarterly lists and give some love to more great albums of the genre throughout the holiday months of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmahanakwanza.
Unfortunately, there were not a lot of releases these past three months that really stood out to me or wowed me enough to put them on the list, so much so that I’ve decided to shorten this quarter’s list down to five releases. However I do wanna give a shout-out a few extra projects before we go down that rabbit hole.
The first goes to ESPRIT 空想 (a.k.a. George Clanton), who made a big comeback to the vaporwave realm with the release of 200% Electronica, a sequel to the popular 100% Electronica that George Clanton decided to release under his own birth name. While I wasn’t particularly excited having not been a fan of his music, I will admit that the music on this album is enjoyable enough to recommend to any newcomer of vaporwave who wants to delve into the most essential releases of 2017, as it is one of them.
Secondly, we have another return to releasing music on the scene with the new 식료품groceries album 인터넷 쇼핑 (Ascension), a more muzak-based vaporwave attempt to capture the mallsoft aesthetic, except more themed towards online shopping as opposed your average shopping center – because that’s starting to become a thing nowadays. Sure, this album may not be nearly as good as his previous two records, but it’s certainly a surprising enough comeback to recommend here.
And lastly I wanna give a special shout-out to Sky Between Spirits. They are a brand new supergroup consisting of some of my close friends who have been making exceptional attempts at NUWRLD music. Two of their latest albums that came out on the same day as each other are 真夏TEARS and my personal favorite MEMORIES都市の端から. I cannot stress enough that these two albums are worth your time if you are a big fan of death’s dynamic shroud’s older material. They’re absolutely stellar at making memorable, distorted loops that’ll roam in your mind for ages to come.
And with those shout-outs out of the way, let’s get into the countdown! What few albums that came out this quarter have not only been good but great, so don’t sleep on these.
#5: No Death & Rhucle – Small Lights
Before I go into detail, I want to make it very clear that this is by far the best ambient album I’ve heard all year. What I’ve always hated about ambient was how it overstays its welcome easily and how it’s almost never memorable to my ears. What No Death and Rhucle have done with this record was the exact opposite. They made sure their tracks were never too long, they kept the listener’s interest and they evoked a relaxing, beautiful experience like ambient music was made to be without getting tedious like it normally is. And they did so on top of the most gorgeous aesthetics I have ever seen, with minimalistic paintings that make me feel like a kid again. Everything just felt so natural all the way through. If you enjoy ambient music at all or at the very least see the potential in it, I dare you to give this thing a listen; you will not regret it for a second of your lifetime, just as much as I haven’t.
(P.S. That music video of Lume that Poeribbon made? Yes. 100% yes to that video. Just emphasizes my love for this aesthetic even more.)
#4: hyphyskazerbox – Royalty (Two Faced)
If you can’t already tell, I am a huge fan of hyphyskazerbox (who also makes great music under §E▲ ▓F D▓G§), so it always excites me to see him releasing his music to the public once more. And his latest album Royalty (Two Faced) was no less amazing than his content normally is. This album is just another amazing collection of eccentric electronic tunes under the iconic Business Casual label, with even more fast-paced plunderphonics than ever before. While many of these tracks are short, there are plenty enough to keep you going, and the more longer tracks that are featured on here are just as catchy and amazing. If you’re willing to get into his content, I recommend all albums released under both monikers in the past year and a little beyond that (I still love E Street enough to make it count), because goddammit, he deserves much more love and attention than he normally gets.
#3: Daniel Saylor – Spring Rain
I’ve waited for so long for Daniel Saylor to release a new album, and although it was sad to see the Windows 98の name get dropped, it was clearly for the better so that he can work on something he’s more comfortable to make under his own birth name. Boy did he give us something completely fresh and new to the style we’ve known his old moniker to represent. This debut album marks Bedlam Tapes’ first ever vinyl, and it’s easy to say Daniel deserves that honor, as the electronic jazz hybrid brings an experience no one could previously experience in the vapor scene. With Reef Frequent, Cobalt Road, Dan Mason, and others bringing in their instrumental performances into the mix, this record bands together many talents to compose some of the most fresh funk tunes and tremendous jaw-dropping jazz fused with ecstatic electronic production all throughout.
(P.S. Shout-out to chris††† for that gorgeous cover art.)
#2: pure light – XYZ
New Motion may be one of the much later labels to start out this year, but they’ve already proven themselves capable of releasing some fresh tunes on tape to be considered one of the greater vapor labels of 2017. And what I consider to be their best release by far as of yet is the new album from pure light. Two tracks of long-form, funky house beats that are accentuated with heavy lo-fi filters and a gorgeous cover art. What’s most notable about this album for me in comparison to all the others on this list is that you would think that these tracks shouldn’t have stayed their welcome well beyond the five-minute mark, but trust me when I say that these 20 minute tracks are just as long as they should be. pure light never fails to keep me from losing interest in them. It’s only two tracks, yes, so there’s not too much content in there to describe in depth, but what does come out of this record is definitely worth your time if you’re into lo-fi bangers.
#1: FIRE-TOOLZ – INTERBEING
Before I conclude this list, I will say that I am sorry for never taking notice on the previous FIRE-TOOLZ record that came out early this year titled Drip Mental until just after her latest release with this project under the Bedlam Tapes label. But at least I finally got to find out about her project upon the announcement of this album. What this album is is a complete new venture into music that I never thought would ever exist. I’m talking a mass fusion of industrial electronic music, jazz, black metal (inb4 SUNNBLEACH [Editor’s note: Dammit.]), and vaporwave. And what resulted from this was by far the most peculiar project I’ve embarked on this past year. And it’s amazing. Angel Marcloid really brings in her talents as a musician of all these kinds of genres and more, and takes you on a ride that you won’t ever forget. It still baffles me to this day how it all works out the way it does, but it really works out surprisingly well, that’s what makes this album truly remarkable.
Thank you all so much for reading all four quarters of my “best of the year so far” lists. Stay tuned as later on I will bring to you the final countdown, merging all of my previously mentioned favorites into the ultimate end-of-year list. Until then, I will see you later!