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Kevin’s Music Reviews: 新しいデラックスライフ (New Life DeLuxe)

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Here is a truly bizarre album, especially taken out of the context of its genre. I had trouble finding this album for obvious reasons – for one thing I can’t type in Japanese, and my only exposure to this album at the time was though a “vaporwave essentials” image, which of course I can’t copy and paste into google. All I had to go by was the album artwork, brandishing some anime guy in a helmet that I should recognize but don’t. Vaporwave is already a genre fascinated with the anonymous, and this added stifling only made this album all the more elusive. Only by a sheer stroke of luck did I find it.

Now vaporwave artists are no strangers to making unusually compact “albums”, but this is a truly bite-sized and fleeting listen. The average song length is between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, with just a couple tracks exceeding the 3-minute mark. Two of these tracks are virtually the same song as well. It’s pretty much over and done with before you even score a chance to truly grasp what is even going on here.

Once you’ve heard it about ten times, this dazzlingly weird album starts to make a little more sense. But even then, it still barely makes any sense. This album follows in the footsteps of Replica-era Daniel Lopatin, being built entirely from dated, obscure samples, though it is notably more low-fi. Unlike Replica, however, this album’s plunderphonics never really amount to actual “songs”, and rather just feel like broken, repeated samples without purpose or structure. This leads to a drastically more hazy and incoherent listen, though this “broken” aesthetic is arguably what makes vaporwave appealing in the first place.

If anything, one could enjoy this as an extremely brief trip through the obsolete television paraphernalia this album is built from. However, not only does it sit in the shadow of an album such as Replica, it’s attempts at creating a claustrophobic and twisted atmosphere rarely stick around long enough to truly create any tension. The unsettling appeal that some of the best vaporwave has is certainly here, being such a grotesquely-shaped album, one whose only moments of sounding anything like a “song” are when a fraction of some obscure Japanese jingle makes an appearance. However, it feels much too undercooked, and like I said has a tendency to slip right through your fingers, though both the concept and the heart are certainly there.

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