豊平区民TOYOHIRAKUMIN – MUSIC IN THE AIR
Recommendation: ✂ (“PLAZA,” “MIDNIGHT TALKING,” “NAKANO BOTANICAL GARDENS,” “TOMORROW, TOYOHIRA”)
MUSIC IN THE AIR doesn’t know what kind of album it wants to be. On one hand, there are future funk bangers like the four-on-the-floor “MIDNIGHT TALKING;” on the other, there are comfort food classic-style vaporwave jamz such as “RENAISSANCE HOTEL.” There’s even mallsoft, brought to you by “VERTIGO.” The choices of samples are decent: MUSIC IN THE AIR successfully imparts the feeling of long city drives on a night where the air is cool and the wine flows free, but it’s inconsistent in both realization and flow. The downtempo “NAKANO BOTANICAL GARDENS” is followed by late-night lo-fi elevator music via “REAR WINDOW,” and the stark contrast of emotive soul-jazz with the sterility of muzak is jarring rather than engaging.
In fact, MUSIC IN THE AIR is a great example of just how careful vaporwave samplers need to be when they’re putting together their albums and how the concept of “sample curation” is much more painstaking than it may initially belies. There’s a very fine line between eliciting emotions and emulating emotions; 豊平区民TOYOHIRAKUMIN’s production choices vacillate on which the artist desired. It’s much like the difference between “utopian” and “faux-utopian” branches of vaporwave – is the point of the album to make the listener aware of the false promises of a perfect society created by globalization and interaction, or is it to bring forth the idealism of such times in a less political light?
Anyway, that’s getting too far into a tangent that’s probably outside the scope of this review. MUSIC IN THE AIR‘s strongest tracks are those on which 豊平区民TOYOHIRAKUMIN demonstrates their willingness to experiment a bit more outside of low-fidelity/blur effects: “PLAZA,” “MIDNIGHT TRAIN,” and “TOMORROW, TOYOHIRA” have excellent funky vibes that should’ve formed the backbone of this album more so than the minimally-edited hypnagogic pop that make up the vast majority of the album’s run-time.1 Hypnagogic pop can be great, but it needs more substance (or a lack of, if that’s the producer’s goal!) than simple filters in order to be effective.
Ultimately, MUSIC IN THE AIR falters in its inconsistency, despite the strength of its source material.
1. CURTIS – (2:59)
2. SLOW BOAT TO CHINA – (1:33)
3. PLAZA – (3:59)
4. MIDNIGHT TALKING – (2:52)
5. VERTIGO – (3:13)
6. RENAISSANCE HOTEL – (1:44)
7. A WONDERFUL LIBRARY – (3:32)
8. PHENOMENON – (3:29)
9. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN – (1:03)
10. RECYCLING – (1:12)
11. NAKANO BOTANICAL GARDENS – (2:22)
12. REAR WINDOW – (1;14)
13. WE ARRIVED IN SAPPORO – (3:11)
14. LOVE TO A MOUNTAIN, AND MEDITATION – (3:59)
15. TOMORROW, TOYOHIRA – (3:36)
16. AKAIWA 1985 – (2:22)
1… a style that was played out in 2012, to say nothing of 2014 when this album came out.