Digital Sex – Zones
Perhaps best known for his collaboration with Oscob, Digital Sex is a Wisconsin producer who dabbles in classic-style vaporwave, hypnagogic drift, and 16-bit music. Featured on high-profile compilations that include The Eternal Dream System and 95 Elements, Digital Sex has received a large amount of producer clout since the start of his vaporwave career. Zones is his fifth full-length release and first on Midnight Moon Tapes, a label based out of California that specializes in cassette issues.
Zones primarily returns to vaporwave’s roots, forgoing the common 2016 tropes of ambiance, technical production, non-sampling, and hip-hop/trap music in favor of straightforward, short tracks from adult contemporary sources as if it’s 2012 all over again.1 It’s classic-style vaporwave through and through, with the majority of songs using ECCOJAMS production and some slushy production (e.g. “STARLIGHT METROPOLIS ZONE”) for some foggy nostalgia as songs linger in the background – akin to the “fishvapor” practiced on Tetra Systems releases. This is an exceptionally short album – only twenty minutes this time around, in comparison to Overgrowth‘s eighty-plus – but it’s a format that works well for this kind of classic, unserious fun. There’s not much on the new side, but as with albums such as ＮＥＷ ＶＩＳＵＡＬＳ by bl00dwave, what’s done is done really well and with tangible ease, like a marathon runner going out for a 10K.
There aren’t too many cuts – this is the kind of album designed to be listened in a single thru-listen instead of on shuffle or in a playlist. Tracks like “MINUS ZONE” would kind of lose their point if treated as such. One song that does deserve a shout-out is “DOLPHIN + BONUS ZONE”, which features a slow degrade of an ECCOJAMS microsample that suddenly shifts into SEGA chiptune. Another is “SANCTUARY ZONE”, which has a good time sliding and stuttering along as a pseudo-hypnagogic jam. Check it out for some excellent background music and the sounds of a producer who’s just having a good time digging in crates.
1. LOADING . . . – (0:29)
2. DOLPHIN + BONUS ZONE – (2:44)
3. FOREVER ZONE – (1:51)
4. STARLIGHT METROPOLIS ZONE – (2:07)
5. BLUE BEACH ZONE – (2:20)
6. MINUS ZONE – (0:52)
7. ICE CAVERN ZONE – (1:59)
8. SANCTUARY ZONE – (2:44)
9. EMPTY ZONE – (1:36)
10. SUNSET SKYLINE ZONE – (2:08)
11. NEW GAME PLUS – (1:28)
1… which feels like forever ago in vaporwave.