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仮想プラザへようこそ。note 
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Vaporwave (also called "vapor") is a genre of music that originated from The Internet around the start of The New '10s. Staples of the genre include: the use of (and/or influence from) 1980s and 1990s smooth jazz, rhythm and blues and Japanese city popnote ; corporate iconography and sloganeering; early computer generated artwork; images of capitalism and opulence; and a clear case of irony poisoning.

Presaged by Oneohtrix Point Never's 2010 album Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1, 骨架的's 2010 outings Holograms and Skeleton, and James Ferraro's 2011 opus Far Side Virtual, vaporwave quickly crystallized with releases by Ramona Xavier (aka Vektroid), under names such as Laserdisc Visions and esc不在. But it was her one-off alias Macintosh Plus and the album Floral Shoppe that broke through to mainstream discourse. Case in point, Floral Shoppe's song "リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュ" note  is considered synonymous with what vaporwave is, in the public sphere. Xavier's album (and subsequent vaporwave excursions) were all created as a "slightly derisive practical joke aimed at the witch house/seapunk/net music scene" for (pretending to) ironically like bad music and decided to see if they'd take the bait if it was packaged in an esoteric matter. The experiment worked way too well, and the genre quickly exploded across the internet, with hundreds of artists littering Bandcamp with albums.

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Music created during these early years primarily consisted of taking music from the 1980s and chopping and screwing it: cutting loops of songs out and slowing them downnote  and adding filters, reverbs and delays. This "first wave" (no pun intended) or "classic" vaporwave sound — also known as eccojams — is synonymous with the name of the genre, and there are many artists who still work in this style. At the same time, a thread known as Utopian virtual emerged, invoking the idealism and optimism of post-Cold War society via its consumerism by using sounds of computers and commerce from the 1990s in a more melodic, positive and less harsh way.

2012 saw the genre fragment heavily. BLANK BANSHEE's seminal works 0 and 1 defined the genre of vaportrap, which added elements of hip hop and trap music to samples of computer chimes and New Age music. Meanwhile, SAINT PEPSI and others would use fuse vaporwave with disco house, creating future funk, a decidedly more upbeat approach (Saint Pepsi would take this so far he changed stage names to Skylar Spence). Hypnagogic vaporwave (or post-internet) emerged, creating futuristic soundscapes from field recordings and computerized abstractions; another subgenre, mallsoft, merged field recordings of nature and shopping with heavily reverberated ambient music to play on the genre's consumerist themes. Oceangrunge and hardvapour would also appear, hybridizing vaporwave with grunge and alternative rock (the former), and industrial and noise music (the latter), as rebuttals against the perceived anemic meekness of prior iterations of vaporwave. Broken transmission (or signalwave) abruptly shifts through samples and loops of commercials to create the sensation of channel surfing and being bombarded endlessly with advertisements, as a full-faced critique on mindless (un)ethical consumption under capitalism and an inverse to Utopian Virtual. And lastly, there's late night lo-fi, a vaporwave counterpart to the lo-fi house and lo-fi hip hop genres that have glutted the YouTube algorhythm.

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All of these genres more or less work with the same sample base of 1980s songs, though there has been a notable shift towards composing original tunes, rather than simply sampling. This explosion of genre-blending abandon is considered the "second wave" of vaporwave.

Aesthetically, vaporwave incorporates a barrage of 1990s capitalist iconography and sloganeering alongside images of buildings, beaches and other signs of opulence, littered with Gratuitous Japanese (and later, other languages.) Many albums envision other worlds, generally informed by seminal CG animation like The Mind's Eye compilations: resorts on sunny beaches; landscapes with Alien Geometries; and an endless mall, often referred to as the Virtual Plaza, are common. Some artists even envision high concepts for themselves: Replica Federation, for example, envisions their music as the soundtrack for a hitman and super-spy, chronicling his adventures. The cut and paste use of languages gives vaporwave the feel of globalization with all of the pros and cons entailed and can lend the feeling of a deceptively bleak, placidly dystopian future in which Japan Takes Over the World and everyone orders take out from the video phone on their boats. Despite some speculative journalism calling vaporwave a desconstruction of American capitalism, the genre does signal a complete ambivalence towards it (case in point, 猫 シ Corp.'s mallsoft album Palm Mall features sounds and images of placid consumerism while using the exact font of Pall Mall brand cigarettes on the cover.) It should be noticed that some artists, like Vektroid, have pubicly stated that their music is not intended to be anti-capitalist. Other artists are more critical.

On the whole, vaporwave is considered a polarizing genre. The original arguments against the genre calling it uncreative hipster trash have been replaced by it simply being hipster trash by 2016. There's even been debate within the community on whether everything in the second wave is even worth listening to (or vice versa.) However, most can agree that first wave vaporwave was a great way to expand one's own musical palette; indeed, vaporwave most likely inspired the wide range of Japanese city pop, electronic and New Age albums being reissued worldwide after only being known in Japan for decades. Some critically successful musicians, like Oneohtrix Point Never, DJ Seinfeld and Visible Cloaks, have flirted with vaporwave(-adjacent) sounds and imagery as well.

Much of it can be found on Bandcamp under the tags "eccojams" and "vaporwave".

Not to be confused with vaporware, despite the name being derived from it, and certainly not with Vapor Wear, which is something different entirely. Compare Seapunk, which has similar origins and also makes use of nostalgic 90's imagery, and Synthwave, which wholeheartedly embraces The '80s in its music and artwork; however, is more akin to the upbeat, "totally radical" synthesizer workouts of that decade, and primarily focuses on original compositions.

See also these helpful guides to all the various styles of vaporwave.

Now has a wiki.

NOTABLEヴェイパーウェイヴアーティストnote 

  • Chuck Person (often cited as the Ur-Example of vaporwave; Oneohtrix Point Never's other works also proved influential for oceangrunge and hardvapour)
  • 骨架的note  (The Trope Maker, whose Holograms album "inspired everything", according to...)
  • Vektroid, and her aliases:
    • New Dreams Ltd.
    • MACINTOSH PLUS (The Floral Shoppe tape is the Trope Codifier for first-wave vaporwave.)
    • PrismCorp Visual Enterprises
    • Laserdisc Visions
    • 情報デスクVIRTUAL
    • esc 不在
    • Sacred Tapestry
  • INTERNET CLUB
    • ░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░
    • ECCO UNLIMITED
    • memorex dawn
  • SAINT PEPSI (earlier works)
  • Infinity Frequencies
  • HKEnote  (Founded the DREAM CATALOGUE label, which many popular vaporwave albums were released on)
  • t e l e p a t h (co-owner of DREAM CATALOGUE, collaborates with the above under the name 2814)
  • luxury elite (founded the now-defunct Fortune 500 label which briefly housed SAINT PEPSI)
  • Nmesh
  • Famicom Fountains
  • CYBEREALITYライフ
  • BLΛNK BΛNSHΣΣ (Trope Maker and Codifier [and possibly Ur-Example as well] for vaportrap)
  • OSCOB
  • VHS Logos
  • death's dynamic shroud.wmv
  • waterfront dining
  • 猫 シ Corp.
  • Iacon
  • マクロスMACROSS 82-99 (Trope Maker and Codifier for Future Funk)
  • 悲しい ANDROID - APARTMENT¶
  • Architecture in Tokyo
  • NxxxxxS

Tropes present in vaporwave

  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Various Vaporwave and Future Funk songs usually mix two (or more) different songs and convert into one. A good example is Yung Bae's Anibabe that mixed an 80s J-Pop song with a 70s Disco song in English.
  • Archive Panic:
    • As classic and hypnagogic vaporwave are very easy to create, some artists have put out dozens of hours of material. t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, for example, has put out at least 64 half-hour length pieces under the alias of 仮想夢プラザ alone. One of the people behind record label DMT Tapes FL has hundreds of releases across 37 different aliases. Even when some artists put out minute long songs, this definitely adds up.
    • Due to the legally dicey nature of vaporwave in general, many artists have either uploaded their catalogue for free on a filesharing platform as MP3s, or deleted their works down the road altogether. If a work does survive, it's usually in a lossy format.
    • Artists have sometimes gone back and edited/re-mixed their previous albums, thanks to the way the music hosting service Bandcamp allows album and track uploads. Vektroid has notably re-issued several albums with bonus songs, and re-created/updated others, with the original versions removed.
    • Bandcamp revitalized the use of the Hidden Track by allowing users to unlist songs from an album; they will only appear when the full album is purchased, never as individual songs. Early Vektroid albums used this feature.
  • Avant Garde Music: The stranger side of vaporwave can sound like this. Examples include ░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░ and 骨架的's first release.
  • Broken Record/Looped Lyrics: Common, due to the sample-based nature of many vaporwave releases. Some tracks can be more literal about that first part than others.
  • Caps Lock: If the name of a vaporwave artist isn't full of Gratuitous Japanese, it's in all caps. Sometimes, it's both. note  Averted by artists who opt for all lowercase letters instead. Others will often use full-width text, like this.
  • Contemptible Cover: There's a whole bunch of album covers that only feature a model in a bikini or lingerie, taken from commercials from Asian countries, with no or minimal text. The most famous, 骨架的's Holograms, is a picture of a woman's butt, hips and hands on a beach.
  • Contralto of Danger: What female vocals often end up sounding like.
  • Crossover:
    • Oneohtrix Point Never, whose early "eccojam" works directly inspired vaporwave, has produced other works that are influential to vaporwave's subgenres, as well as works inspired by them in turn.
    • Hardvapour has cross-over potential with experimental club music, such as that made by Total Freedom or Arca.
    • There's a visual sub-movement called Simpsonwave, which combines the eponymous series with vaporwave music and aesthetics, usually using old 90s episodes scenes and modifying them in vaporwave style. Some famous examples are this one and this one, even inspired a Regular Show variant like this one (being a series inspired by 80s and 90s, isn't strange to see this crossover here).
  • Cyberpunk: Where a lot of the genre gets its inspiration from.
  • Dark Reprise: A lot of vaporwave can sound like Dark Reprises of the songs they sample. For example, "Tender Love" by Force M.D.s is a cheerful love serenade, but INTERNET CLUB's "WAVE TEMPLE" turns it into what sounds like BGM for a Really Dead Montage.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some albums have taken on a darker theme. One example is ░▒▓死▓▒░ by Chinese Hackers is described as a mix between vaporwave and industrial/dark ambientnote . The result is genuinely disturbing.
    • "Weird Wide Web" by Mothership Loudspeakerz is an attempt to mix vaporwave/vaportrap with psytrance, on the premise that both genres create psychedelic, dreamy soundscapes, even if with slightly different outcomes.
  • Dead Horse Genre: Some believe that vaporwave was very close to becoming this in 2013 before various albums released the following years offered new takes on the genre and revitalized it. Others believe it already has.
    • Vaporwave's influence eventually seeped into Future Funk, a hybrid plunderphonic dance genre that's functionally identical to the filter house and nu-disco of The Aughts, but with the added aesthetics and samples sets of vaporwave.
  • Decade-Themed Filter: Vaporwave has usually their music videos and/or images under the VCR filters since both styles reference 80s and 90s eras. In this case, usually 80s TV ads are used in some of the songs as well western animations or anime scenes from those decades.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Sometimes, the Japanese characters in an artist's name is just the English part of their name translated into Japanese. For example, the characters in "t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者" translate to "telepath", essentially making the name "t e l e p a t h telepath".note 
  • Echoing Acoustics: Many tracks will use these.
  • The '80s: A major inspiration for the genre.
  • Epic Rocking: Vaporwave tracks can either be very long or very short. You may hear some tracks that run up to 20 minutes in length and others that don't even last a minute.
  • The Faceless: A large portion of vaporwave artists invoke this, due to the "rampant consumption of data and material goods" part of the aesthetic. This has notably allowed a lot of women and LGBT artists to flourish in the scene, unhampered by trying to fit into the mold(s) that, unfortunately, many mainstream female and queer artists are expected to fit into.
  • Gaia's Lament: Some vaporwave and ocean grunge releases (such as SLUDGE DREDD by DJ Rozwell, and Eco Virtual's work) have a decidedly environmentalist theme to them.
  • Gratuitous Japanese/Lucky Charms Title: Song titles and artist names will often use either one or the other. For the former, see... most of the genre. For the latter, $PL▲$H ¢LUB 7's got you covered. For both, see 情報デスクVIRTUAL's Contemporary Sapporo album.
    • New Deluxe Life's Freed from the World project takes this to really ridiculous levels; all the song titles are a mishmash of Japanese characters, alt key symbols, and some caps-locked English here and there for good measure. Even the name and album title are written as "░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░" and "▣世界から解放され▣", respectively.
    • Semi-parodied by the producer 日本人, whose name is Japanese for... "Japanese (person)".
    • Ocean grunge tracks usually eschew gratuitous Japanese and instead go for gratuitous Greek.
    • And there's the album "홥딋ɴ⧺乹濲Ἇ༦ꫠꖾᕳࡒꖰ䇛ⓌꔇᏎ⇭ಱꚃ᨞䞠쵄Ⱃꔹꉴσ냤匀P免ぬ⒧ꕎ​.​zip" by Apk ♀ ᴎᴇᴛ ☯ Ltd℻
  • I Have Many Names: Some artists, like Vektroid, will work under several aliases.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • The New Dreams Ltd. series of albumsnote  released by Vektroid, which encompasses all of her work in vaporwave, was created as a Stealth Parody of undiscerning internet hipsters pretending to like things for ironic reasons. She ended up codifying vaporwave into the household name that it is by doing so, creating countless imitators alongside genuine musicians who pushed the genre forward.
    • Several other highly controversial works, such as THE DARKEST FUTURE's FLORAL SHOPPE 2 and ░▒▓新しいデラックスライフ▓▒░'s ▣世界から解放され▣, could also fit this trope, but the artists behind them haven't revealed their intent behind creating them.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Some artists are prone to deleting part of their back catalogues, requiring their fans to circulate any material they downloaded themselves. Listeners of music in general only use MP3s, so lossless copies of many releases are lost for good because of this, even with some keen listeners taking it upon themselves to create vast libraries of every vaporwave release ever. Some artists will go back and delete songs from albums, or re-mix/re-configure the entire album to replace the original version (something Vektroid is fond of doing.)
  • Loudness War: The first wave saw quite a bit of this.
    • Some vaporwave music is deliberately brickwalled to recreate the sound of a distorted tape - such as in the case of chris†††'s music.
  • Mind Screw: The more heavily edited tracks can sound like this. The more stereotypical vaporwave artwork also qualifies.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Musically, vaporwave can be described as Dream Pop, chillwave, deep house, oldschool dubstep, lounge, New Age, soul, R&B and 80's pop and dance music in a blender.
  • Product Placement:
    • Being a kind of deconstruction of consumerism for many, most of artwork from vaporwave are referred to famous brands from 80s and 90s, mostly famous Cola brands (Coca-Cola and Pepsi) as well other ones as the old Microsoft Windows logos (Windows '95 notably). Some examples are these 2 music videos made for Vaporwave songs, this one based on American Pepsi ads and this one with Japanese Coca-Cola ads.
    • Not to mention the name of various artists are directly relationed with this. Some notable examples are SAINT PEPSI, Kodak Cameo, ESPRIT 空想, WALKMAN 91 and Famicom Fountains, as others.
  • Retraux: Classic-styled vaporwave often relies on this; album covers are commonly taken from screencaps of commercials from the 80s or 90s.
  • Sampling: A key component, though this was somewhat more prevalent in the first wave than the second wave, which has more artists creating original compositions.
  • Sexophone: Very common on account of all the smooth jazz sampling that goes on.
  • Shout-Out: The name of Eccojams is a shout out to Ecco the Dolphin; the cover art even uses part of the original Genesis game's boxart. In turn, any use of the word "ecco" in vaporwave is likely a shout out to Eccojams.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To nightcore, a musical genre that's also situated on the internet and sample-based. Whereas vaporwave glorifies the vintage Japanese "aesthetic" and primarily revolves around slowing down music, nightcore uses female characters from modern Japanese media and speeds up music. As a result, vaporwave achieves a nostalgic yet unsettling mood, while nightcore is more upbeat.
  • Stealth Parody: Even ignoring the debate on whether or not the entire genre is this, there are several parodies that spoof the genre (ie the ones that are little more than just slowing down a song with no other edits while plastering an image on it) that it can be hard to tell whether which ones are the parodies or just misguided attempts at the genre due to Poe's Law.
    • Vektroid's vaporwave albums were, in her words, "bred from the hypothesis that the [net music] scene has such a backwards mentality of music that they will listen to anything, no matter how tragically unfashionable the music sounds, if it's packaged fashionably."
  • Stylistic Suck: What some people believed artists to be aiming for in the beginning. Several albums critical of the genre and of its adherents will also play hard into this trope.
  • Textless Album Cover: Most vaporwave cover art.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: People have said that vaporwave is pretty easy to get into, as all you need to get started are some slowed-down samples and perhaps a concept.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: For the uninitiated, vaporwave can seem like this.
  • Unbuilt Trope:
    • Washed Out's song "Feel it All Around" is arguably the most famous song of the Chillwave genre; that genre also featured slowed down and reverbed samples (with "Feel It All Around" using Gary Low's "I Want You"), but that genre was more indebted to the tenets of indie rock and lacked the chopping and screwing associated with Vaporwave.
    • James Ferraro also kind of falls victim to this too. His album Far Side Virtual was very influential in the Vaporwave scene and even provided many of the aesthetics for Vaporwave, office buildings and a dreary dystopian feel, but his work simply lacks a lot of key elements of vaporwave. He came very close to being Vaporwave, but ultimately is counted as a proto-Vaporwave.
  • Uncanny Valleyinvoked: A couple of artists, INTERNET CLUB and Vektroid, have said they were invoking this effect on the music they were sampling, with the latter mentioning the trope by name. It's unknown to us if others were doing the same, but it's likely.
  • Ur-Example: Apart from Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1, there are a few candidates:
    • Oneohtrix Point Never's 2009 audio-visual album Memory Vague — in particular, the song "Nobody Here" — was released before even Chuck Person's Eccojams, and is the earliest modern album that can be classified as proper vaporwave, with the colorful and melancholic visuals, and the signature repetitive Sampling style associated with the genre; though, by the time, it was associated with hypnagogic pop as it preceded Daniel's later works in eccojams.
    • The 1988 album Digital-Dance by German Electronic Music duo Software, and in particular, the song "Island-Sunrise" This album is fairly well-known in the vaporwave community specifically for this reason.
    • The works of DJ Screw, who made a name for himself by creating mixtapes of various slowed-down and chopped rap, disco, funk, and yes, occasionally '80s pop songs. His earliest works date back to 1993.
    • "Moonside Swing" by Hirokazu Tanaka, from the 1994 video game Earthbound. It takes an 80's pop song (by Ric Ocasek from The Cars) and employs sampling techniques similar to some tracks on Eccojams and this track from Sacred Tapestry's Shader album. EarthBound featured similar edits with songs from The Beatles and The Beach Boys as well.
    • Boards of Canada experimented quite a bit with this in the mid-90's, under the moniker Hell Interface. They slowed and weirded out tacky pop songs of the 80's such as Trapped by Colonel Abrams or The Midas Touch by Midnight Star, adding slow droning synth music. The results are... disturbing rather than relaxing. See for yourself.
  • Weird Internet Thing: The genre itself. Much of the accompanying artwork from the first wave (e.g., the page image) was actually trying to emulate weird Japanese promotional artwork and advertising. This is part of "the aesthetic" you'll see people talking about (and mocking) when discussing vaporwave.
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