[Feature] Channeled Era’s Top 10 Favorite Vaporwave Albums of 2017 (Q2)
Ever since the start of the new year, I have been ranking as many vaporwave or vapour albums as I can that have been released in 2017. Previously on Sunbleach, I counted down the best works that the first three months of the year offered, and now that we’re over halfway through 2017, it’s time to count down some more personal favorites from April to June. Let’s begin!
#10: Yoshimi – Atavism
Starting off the list is the last in Dream Catalogue’s five-album return in 2017. This amazing ten-track dreampunk experience elicits walking through the cities of Tokyo with the music that spiritually blends the country’s ancient lore with the more modernized visions you see the place as to this day. A darker and more ambient album than I would normally be used to that midway through shocks your average listener by the fifth track, making the entire scene seem much more darker throughout the album. A good majority of this album is ambient from start to finish with the exception of one or two tracks such as “Possession” and “Occurring”, which fall under his “Japanese Hell Trap” style that I would love to hear more of. A great album to finish Dream Catalogue’s first sequence of 2017 albums.
#9: LemKuuja – jude.
jude. is a short EP on Business Casual released by future funk artist LemKuuja that blends his future funk vibes with the more chilled out lo-fi hip-hop concepts. Combining vaporhop instrumentals and future funk chops & screws with old school movie scenes and jazz tunes to create a both vintage feel and a modernized album, Jude stays fluid and consistent throughout every track. While lots of vaporwave tends to throwback the listener to the aesthetics of the 80s and 90s, this album feels a lot more like it takes you back to the 70s, if not earlier. And if you want that sort of aesthetic feel to the 70s combined with hip-hop future funk tunes and an overall relaxing experience, I suggest you pick this album up and give it a listen.
#8: Vektroid – Telnet Complete
A remaster of the previous 2010 EP known as Telnet Erotika, Vektroid returns with the original five tracks (one of which was edited) plus 12 brand new tracks from ECCOJAMS such as “At Dusk” to muzak originals like “Saudade After The Dream” and more! Telnet Complete is a brilliant throwback while bringing in a whole new experience from her many different production styles that never cease to amaze. This extended and tweaked reissue of the late 2010 classic is worth the throwback/first-listen combo that many fans of the vaporwave pioneer tend to experience from this brilliant album.
#7: Electric Specter 電妖怪 – Arctic Circuitry
Yet another amazing Business Casual release comes from a brand new artist known as Electric Specter. It combines the aesthetics of a cold, freezing winter; old-school video game electronics; and death to induce a bizarre hypnagogic vaporwave experience all the way through. From the ambient “Glacial Existence” introduction to the beautiful melody of “Mr Icy Bones”, from the trippy xylophones of “Crystalline Surf” to the slow-paced rock of “Final Freeze”, most of the experience is quick with its tempos and immediate echoes that will leave you dizzy yet fascinated in this eleven-track ride – in a good way, too.
#6: LSTRVR – ANX/MEM recrystallization EP
Another sylvan idyllics project that, while also not technically vapour, deserves a mention here. Four amazing electronic tracks consisting of breakbeat instrumentals, electropop acapellas, video game sound effects and field recordings, all blended together for a surprisingly breathtaking experience, that’s short, sweet and spectacular. While still staying consistent to the producer’s glitchiness and chaotic while remaining melancholic, melodic and strangely peaceful despite its tendencies to chop and screw samples all over the place. It’s true that there’s beauty in chaos, and this EP is easily the perfect example of just that.
#5: Love Potion – XXX
This collaborative project between vaportrap artists VAPERROR and COCAINEJESUS brings a new level of artificial nostalgia that vaporwave was birthed to be, because when I listen to tracks like “Bleed Black” and “Opalescent Spectre”, I get a strong vibe of the music from Donkey Kong Country 2’s underwater levels, a game so nostalgic to me that when a vaportrap album gives off those sorts of vibes and melodies, it’s just beautiful. Starting off with exciting and upbeat tunes and finishing off with longer, more chilled out and relaxing melodies that take me back. It’s easy to say that I love this album on a more personal level than others would.
#4: FLOOR BABA – NEON DEATH
The long awaited return of former video game composer FLOOR BABA, NEON DEATH follows up the critically acclaimed debut vaportrap album GAMEWAVE, so you know it deserves a mention here. Bringing back the previous album’s hyperactive trap/hip-hop beats and synths while introducing others elements such as additional vocals and raps from various artists including M Danks, Loquo, Dtown and Samuel Austin of Downlows. These sixteen tracks have less of a video game vibe than the album’s predecessor, but that doesn’t stop it from bringing about a fun, quirky and upbeat experience. If you love GAMEWAVE, then you will definitely enjoy this.
#3: chris††† – social justice whatever
John Zobele’s latest self-titled release under the plunderphonic moniker known as chris††† is as much of a meme as it is an artform. A new interesting concept to bring about more memes in the vaporwave industry, social justice whatever compiles not the good, not the bad, but all the ugly that the internet has to offer; from music memes to YouTube Poops, major leagues gaming, vaporwave, anime, and ontroversies as recent as the presidential election of 2016. It’s no short of any Shrek memes either. A rollercoaster of an album so purposely bad it’s good, that’s as much of a masterpiece as it is a trainwreck.
#2: White Gavri’el – Vista of Chaos
The only release in June to make this list, the runner-up to the best-of the second quarter comes from the new face of synthwave producer Windows彡96 known as White Gavri’el, as he returns to the Business Casual label with the album Vista of Chaos. This album is a series of synthwave thrills that accelerate in tone and have you anticipating what’s next, bringing about some of the most pounding drums in the electronic scene that hit you every time. They’re occasionally followed up with calmer yet more mysterious synth interludes. You never know what’s next. Trust me, I’ve been surprised quite a few times (fair warning, buckle up for track five). This album is as haywire as the title implies, but it is an experience that no synthwave fan should miss.
#1: HCMJ – Flight
One of the most unique vapour albums this year comes from vaporwave-turned-vapour label Dream Catalogue and death’s dynamic shroud.wmv member HCMJ in an amazing attempt to meld the progressive rock and shoegaze past of HCMJ’s earlier works with the electronic, twisted music manipulation explored in his recent projects as the famous NUWRLD trio. The album’s strong, hard-hitting introduction is immediately followed by a more fast paced remix of said intro. The album then proceeds to be much more calm and relaxing with the ambiance of “Alone Between Skyscrapers” and the acoustic melodies of “Let’s Purchase”. All throughout, this album is a perfectly example of beauty and chaos and often blending the two together to create something that’s no short of magnificent. For a return to a project that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2012, this comeback is worth the wait for fans old and new; to me, this album serves to be the best album to come out these past three months.
These past few months have had many great albums to the point where it was difficult to decide which albums didn’t make the list, so here are some honourable mentions.
Shinatama – Astrocide (Part I)
Macintosh Pro – FLORAL SHOPPE INFINITE
大きい兄 – NEON SHOWER
HYOUHAKUZAI – SHIRO
Sky Between Spirits – WORLDNET REVIVAL
If you want to keep updated on my favorite vaporwave albums of 2017, check out this document!
Thank you all so much for reading this, and I hope to see you in future articles here at Sunbleach! (It takes me way too long to make these, I swear… Why?)