Radio Quarantine: Oblique Occasions – 戻って来てください lp (Sep 2021)

So, somewhere within the subgenre of electronic music known as VAPORWAVE there is an obscure sub-subgenre known as BARBER BEATS. I’ve still not found anything close to an explanation of what distinguishes anything as Barber Beats but if you click that last link you can get a pretty good selection of music that qualifies as such. And if you follow this sub-Reddit for r/Vaporwave, you may one day get an answer for “What exactly is Barber Beats?” You can in the meantime enjoy this mini-Manifesto for the genre as a whole:

Music optimized for abandoned malls: Global capitalism is nearly there. At the end of the world there will only be liquid advertisement and gaseous desire. Sublimated from our bodies, our untethered senses will endlessly ride escalators through pristine artificial environments, more and less than human, drugged-up and drugged down, catalysed, consuming and consumed by a relentlessly rich economy of sensory information, valued by the pixel. The Virtual Plaza welcomes you, and you will welcome it too.

See now, right here these guys are delving into a level of irony and absurdity that I can identify with and get behind. And in the meantime there are these guys that you may have thought from the album art were Japanese, but OBLIQUE OCCASIONS are from Baltimore, Maryland, right here in the U.S. of A. Or maybe they are from Japan and the label is American. You never really know and they aren’t telling.

Ultimately, the aesthetic of vaporwave is more attractive to me than the music itself. It came to exist within the context of the awareness of being “in the simulation,” though it may represent surrender to the machine driving the simulation. It’s still subversive in that it’s existence is kind of a big middle finger to the structures running the simulation, but.. in the end it’s definitely a surrender, if snotty, eye-rolling and obnoxious, like… okay, I’ll do it, but consider it done under serious protest.

The wiki-link above is actually very informative, and I say that because many of the are not really. Someone seems to have gone to great lengths to explain it, and to explain how the genre collapses under the weight of its own cynicism. You’re going to need some sort of a vision or a plan for people to latch onto if you’re going to last, or maybe it’s as simple as that when you imitate something long enough (in this case the detritus and boredom of consumer capitalism) you will eventually become subsumed by it, no matter how irreverent you start out. How long, for example, was rock and roll the music of rebellion for young people, before it became just the accoutrement of the cage in the zoo? Rock and roll became more and more outrageous, and then outrageous acts were deemed merely eccentricity and eventually it became garish clowning. So the snotty irony of vaporwave drowned itself, like, okay that was fun for a minute. Next!

It’s still rather new for me though, so it’s got about a minute left before I move on. I’m just looking for a cheap thrill. I mean, I’m curious. Yah, I’m curious. It’s interesting though, there’s this weird generational relationship with the concept of irony. I’m of an age where irony is something that either happens or you stumble into unaware, a behavior or whatnot. Irony to the generations behind me is considered performative, or something you do on purpose. To me, the most ironic thing about that is that it’s not ironic. It’s simply performance. Anyway…

That’s me for Monday morning though. Taking notes and getting ready to move on into a week. Just moving on.

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