Album Review: Hantasi – Vacant Places

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Contending quietly for the mallsoft microgenre, Hantasi finds deviance from the vaporwave breed by situating it’s proverbial a e s t h e t i c s in a more traditional setting. Visions of old America are set into a dizzy swing-and-sway by way of rose-tinted horns, slow ragtime pianos, and jovial summertime romanticism. Fleeting reveries of carousel rides effervesce in a hypnotic swirl on opener “Welcome” to immerse the listener into the nostalgic “Lobby”. Bustling noir jazz looms over “Bookstore”, while on the flipside “2nd Floor” opts for sea salt ice cream and sun-bleached boardwalks. There’s even something for fans of more typical mallsoft, such as the drifting echoes of “Abandoned” or the dainty and muffled “Restroom” – and of course the more characteristically vaporwave “Food Court”. The vaporwavey sense of commercial grandeur is ever-present, but it takes a look at it from a fresh perspective.

Though catering to different eras, the mission is the same – create a desolate atmosphere by visiting abandoned mall tracks, and doing it while filtered through the haunting echo of overhead speakers and low fidelity. Vacant Places may be brimming with life in theory, but as the name suggests there is no one there to listen to these scenic embellishments. As merry moods make way for merry times, there’s an obvious lack of human presence where you expect there should be, and this fact nips at your feet through the entire album. No families crowding around the carousel, no actual shoppers at these cornucopia kiosks and vendors – only the ominous groaning of these tracks echoing endlessly down vast empty places of gathering now completely wasted. Sure, “Welcome” was a resplendent carnival at one point, but underneath the entirety of the track is a dark low-end that reminds you these sounds are bouncing off of empty walls. The package reeks of the ambient goodies mallsoft fans happily indulge in, and does it without pandering to the idea that all abandoned malls are from the 80s.


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