Start-Up シーケンス – COMMERCIAL PARENTING
Artist: Start-Up シーケンス
Album: COMMERCIAL PARENTING
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 31 December 2016
Label: Ailanthus Recordings
- Digital download (Ailanthus Recordings, 2017)
Released on New Year’s Eve 2016, COMMERCIAL PARENTING existed in that awkward intermediary of music release schedules where it was too late to make it on anyone’s end-of-the-year list but too early to really be considered for the next year. On the surface, that sounds frustrating, but in context of Start-Up シーケンス’s artistic vision, it makes perfect anti-consumerist sense. COMMERCIAL PARENTING is the first and – at the time of this writing – only full-length release from the artist, who has also posted music to the Soundcloud platform. It was released with little flair on the Ailanthus Recordings label, which has released music from vaporwave heavyweights such as Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza.
According to its introductory text, COMMERCIAL PARENTING is based on “being raised by a television broadcast”, whereby commercialism and mass media “tak[e] place of parental influence” and becomes a kind of “psychological abuse we endure as we are stripped of all self-identifying traits”. Start-Up シーケンス takes great pains to elucidate this concept, and not only in the music. The album artwork depicts a purple, distorted image of a child crying in a corner while a man stands before her with a balled-up fist – a literal interpretation of “abuse”. The track titles sound like slogans from a belligerent advertising campaign, telling the viewer (or listener) that they aren’t good enough and will never be good enough until they buy this product or conform to this view. If parents are the source of a child’s drive for actualization, then “commercial parenting” is one that exists to eliminate actualization entirely so that the child only wants more and feeds into the machine – per Start-Up シーケンス.
As with Replica by Oneohtrix Point Never, each track is based on edited commercials and advertisements that are “recontextualized and reconstructed to shed light on the dark underlying tones that lie beneath”. In disrupting and corrupting the sounds, Start-Up シーケンス states that the music represents “the true nature of commercial broadcasting” in being a dark and “unsettling” mess of antagonistic psychological influences. Some portions are comparatively intelligible, such as on “Be Normal”, but the album slowly degrades into a self-destructive vapornoise mess that culminates in “You’ve lost yourself”, where the staccato vocal samples make the method of production (and television’s influence) plainly visible.
Generally speaking, COMMERCIAL PARENTING utilizes a classic-style vaporwave approach to samplism. Several tracks such as “Be Normal”, “Know Want … NO .. NEED!”, and “Cut.Copy.Consume” are comprised of short earworms that are repeated ad infinitum throughout the length of the track with additional noise-esque degradation of source material. In particular, “Be Normal” starts off with a rather goofy-sounding admonition to “be normal”, but it takes a creepy turn that sets the tone for the rest of the album when the sample takes a half-pitch drop and is layered on top of itself. Other tracks have ambient or hypnagogic elements, often sandwiched between other noise elements – like on late-album cut “S t r i p p e d o f s e l f i n d e n t i f y i n g i m a g e”. “D o n ‘ t f e e l s t r a n g e r . . .” channels early INTERNET CLUB (especially ░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░) with short spoken samples jolted out of any sense of comprehension looping over one another. These elements highlight the distorted nature of television and reflect the disturbing undertones of mass media’s homogenizing influence that Start-Up シーケンス seeks to elicit.
One particularly curious example of juxtaposition that demonstrates Start-Up シーケンス’s thesis in the individually destructive tendencies of television-as-parent occurs rather early in the album. “Children Friendly” begins with another earworm repetition of a broken piano melody – almost par for the course when it comes to creepy vaporwave music – which is then overlaid with distorted child’s laughter. This laughter gets more decrepit as the track progresses, eventually disintegrating along with the piano in a manner not unlike William Basinski tape music. On the other hand, “Cut.Copy.Consume” features a repeated clip of a man saying “cut”, but as the track progresses a woman’s moan begins to appear through the production fog. This subtle pornographic element implies the subliminal aspects of advertising and mass media per sex, and the juxtapostion alongside the “cut” implies that sex – like most other aspects of a consumerist society – can be edited and sold in verisimilitude.
From to , many albums have shown vaporwave’s narrative capabilities, but COMMERCIAL PARENTING shows its philosophical potential. Although the idea of vaporwave being a critique of capitalism is somewhat unsubstantiated given its aesthetic development, this is an album that certainly displays such cynicism toward commercialism and cultural hegemony. Recommended for fans of vapornoise and anti-consumerists.
1. Be Normal – (3:44)
2. Broadcast Paralysis – (4:07)
3. Children Friendly – (6:41)
4. D o n ‘ t f e e l s t r a n g e r . . . – (5:32)
5. Cut.Copy.Consume – (4:13)
6. Know Want … NO .. NEED! – (5:43)
7. See The Models ~ be~ l i k e~ m e – (3:42)
8. W h y Don’t Y o u (Get O N E).! – (3:17)
9. S t r i p p e d o f s e l f i n d e n t i f y i n g i m a g e – (4:32)
10. T r a n s f o r m a t i o n of a wasted E N T I T Y – (6:06)
11. You’ve lost yourself – (7:47)