01100001 S.T.A.R.D.U.S.T. Subsidiary – Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour
Artist: 01100001 S.T.A.R.D.U.S.T. Subsidiary
Album: Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 14 May 2015
Label: Fantasy Deluxe
- Digital download (self-release, 2015)
- Translucent yellow “Version 1.01” cassette, unknown “very rare” edition (Fantasy Deluxe, 2016)
- Translucent yellow “Version 1.02” cassette, edition 50 (Fantasy Deluxe, 2016) Digital download (Fantasy Deluxe, 2016)
- Purple “Version 2.01” cassette, edition 50 (Fantasy Deluxe, 2016/2017)
- Purple “Version 2.02” cassette, edition 40 (Fantasy Deluxe, 2017)
Sporting one of the most vaporwave-esque names in vaporwave, 01100001 S.T.A.R.D.U.S.T. Subsidiary is an Ontario artist whose only album Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour (at least, under this moniker) made a splash upon its original independent release in 2015 in its incorporation of spoken word and sample curation. It was picked up just a year later by the Fantasy Deluxe label, which primarily focuses on classic-style vaporwave, and has since enjoyed a healthy run of several cassette editions.
Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour follows an appreciated but relatively uncommon path of vaporwave composition: that of the imaginary virtual campus or residential facility. This type of production involves themeing an album around it being a tour or introduction to each of the area’s floors and major rooms. Oftentimes, the albums begin with a formal welcome that is played through a text-to-speech system, explaining the purpose of the area and perhaps including a statement about why the listener is there along with the nature of the playback device. The track titles outright state what room or location that the listener is now inside, or they state what type of feeling the listener should experience while there. The songs are usually sample curation that is particular to the room (e.g. a game room having uptempo synth music) but original material is not uncommon. All of these serve to create a distinct narrative milieu that takes the listener through an evocative tour of the area, letting their imagination fill in the visual blanks.1
Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour is fairly notable for making the spoken-word, text-to-speech portion the major focus, which makes it act as a veritable narrator. Whereas in most of these types of albums, the voice does not make an appearance past the welcome or farewell, it is present in every track on Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour. Utilizing an old-school Macintosh text-to-speech software, the tour of the titular virtual campus takes the listener through a half-hour tour of each major area in this digital world. Curated samples of muzak accompany the narrator, giving a distinct dated-marketing feeling that is particular to the early 90s. (What is not particular is the method by which this is apparently accomplished – Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour begins with an admonishment that the voice is speaking to you via a “telepathic education system”.)
As fits the chummy, trying-to-please vibe of vaporwave albums that feature consumerism as their main topic, the narrator of Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour frequently informs you about the current room or location makes it feel. It’s kind of similar to that social media market tactic whereby companies will ask their followers how certain products or actions make them feel and replying how the company feels about them as well.2 as if the company (or social media marketer) is forming a personal connection with the customer. Of course, in context of the Arcadia Campus being a virtual tour, it is possible that this all-digital guide might actually have a connection with the areas that they’re showing on tour, as if us physical entities are the ones who can’t really grasp that familiarity.
Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour is a fairly long album at fourteen tracks and thirty-two minutes. The narrator speaks so often that the curated samples rarely have a time to just play themselves; the muzak that does play is rarely something that sounds “good” and is more-or-less just as soulless as its original source. This and the nature of text-to-speech makes Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour sound monotonous after several tracks, despite the otherwise strong narrative concept and fairly unique style of taking the listener on an actual tour of the area instead of having just music do the talking.3 Producers who are interested in producing an album along these lines should make sure that their album musically grabs the listener, as the repetition of C-grade corporate music is exhausting.
However, Arcadia Campus: Virtual Tour is certainly an exceptional idea, and 01100001 S.T.A.R.D.U.S.T. Subsidiary should be commended for doing something so different in this highly specific, narrative form of vaporwave art.
1. First Day Simulation – (2:34)
2. Arcadia Campus A Store – (2:47)
3. Audio Visual Centre – (2:03)
4. Product Design and Fine Arts Marble Sculpting – (2:55)
5. High Fashion Photo Studio – (2:00)
6. Socializing with Friends (Campus Plaza) – (0:53)
7. Campus Shuttle – (2:44)
8. Campus B Floor 8 – (3:25)
9. Imaging Centre – (2:40)
10. Dorm Life (So Lit~420 LIVESTREAM) – (1:32)
11. High Performance Learning Annex – (2:54)
12. Transportation Design – (1:31)
13. Late Nite Java (Arcadia Cafe) – (2:11)
14. Relaxing Rooftop Garden Plaza – (2:10)
1Virtual High Rise™ – a collaboration between Rez and Oscob – is an example that utilizes all of these trends.
2This is particularly common on Twitter, like when a company such as Microsoft will ask their followers what projects they’re doing for which they’re currently using – say – Microsoft Office.