And then I had to deal with the fact that I missed the boat on the thing; that the scene was 'over' before I'd even become aware of it. Read the excellent "Vaporwave and the Observer Effect" article for a discussion of how a November 2012 Antony Fantano review of a 2011 album by Mackintosh Plus, and this [essential] DUMMY Magazine article "helped kill vaporwave". Great writing, both, and terribly interesting. But some of this is hipper-than-thou bullshit; "I had blue hair before you did."
It's daunting, this notion that 'it's already over'. Learning this had been right under my nose since late 2011 was a humbling experience. Damn! I missed it. But it's not that surprising when you consider that these artists are the hippest young art-punks on the internet, and that culture is evolving so fast and the web is so big. So there's no shame in having missed something. It would be a shame--nay, a crime--to ignore music this good, simply because you missed it or because it's not 'new', or because 'it's over'.
Maybe vaporwave is only perceptible in retrospect. Few beyond the community of those making the music seem to have been aware of it. Looking back, it seems obvious, but it's like the donkey hidden in the picture; it was there all along, but I couldn't see it until someone pointed it out.
Vaporwave has been percolating on the web since at least summer 2011, when the stylistic markers and graphic tropes formed into a recognizable shape, even if the name hadn't yet been invented. The music shares much with chillwave, witch house, and seapunk, but represents a new line of demarcation between EDM and authentic memepop underground, and the infusion of an anarchic element into the mix; a confusing, wtf-is-this artiness that prompted one writer to refer to 'art pop'. This was unashamed bedroom music; made in and listened to in bedrooms; and the geeked outer edge of meme driven music culture. Internet age bachelor pad music, or maybe internet age geek music, more like it, because many of the artists are very young--not exactly bachelors. Vaporwave has been a trending topic on 4Chan recently, and a recent video made to promote a vaporwave event appropriates the style and voicing of the hacker group anonymous. The literary analog might be William Burroughs cut-up novels, the future-myths of JG Ballard, and most importantly, William Gibson's cyberpunk, with some Blade Runner and sci-fi anime thrown in for good measure.
If it's not exactly clear what it all means, it is definitely a form of cultural critique. Vaporwave iconography centers around a set of graphic tropes depicting obsolete technologies; VHS, CD audio and HD video, early computer graphics, and anachronistic corporate entities like AOL and Internet Explorer. The emblems of outdated technology are a reminder of the impact of technological change on daily life, and the icons of capitalism are re-purposed to subversive effect. There was a willingness to experiment, to use images that defy existing standards of what is attractive...
Many of these downloads are very cheap or free. The first tracks and albums posted here I consider absolutely essential listening, but I highly recommend availing yourself of all this stuff. The definitive album so far might be Vektroid's Neo Cali. The Mediafired track deserves special notice too. Beer On The Rug is obviously key as well...
Tonight, that is March 20, at 10PM Eastern Standard Time SPF420 host their latest live online event featuring VEKTROID, DJ PAYPAL, BLACKEDOUT, MAGIC FADES etc. at http://tinychat.com/spf420
Just don't call it vaporwave tho haha.