Radio Quarantine: DΛRKNΣSS – Painkiller Project (不安、痛み) (April 9, 2021)

It struck me this morning that the enigmatic album art might be as interesting, if not more of a draw than the music. That may have arose more out of my own self-questioning nature as anything else, but then looking at a handful of the covers collectively, they do present a very compelling image, and that in turn echoes the question. What is it about this barber beats phenomenon? It isn’t so far removed from mall music and the creators referenced that all the time, and of course it did spin off mallsoft (It’s tempting to end this sentence with ellipses as the thoughts on it flow on…). You wouldn’t catch me sitting here listening to mall music. My one adventure/misadventure with mallsoft was more driven by the incredulity at its existence. This is deeper than shopping mall and elevator music though, even if it does recall it, at least to an extent. DΛRKNΣSS isn’t shopping mall music though, and it’s not lite jazz and it’s not a lot of things, but evokes many things. Whatever. It’s a mood and it’s where I am, apparently. Yah, it’s a mood. It’s a vibe. It’s a liminal space that isn’t the future, nor the past, but it isn’t really quite right now either. It’s where you’ll find me this morning but Google isn’t going to give you directions.

It was mentioned in a couple articles that Vaporwave itself was always as much a visual aesthetic as musical and that would hold true for many of the albums. Again the art, or visual branding for each composition if you will, is as compelling as the music, or can feel so. There’s an awful lot to unpack beyond the Japanese text. The illustration on this one is probably the darkest thing about the album. Fat men casually lounging in a pool. A woman with a spear? A giant cactus/phallus. And so on. An awful lot to unpack. Then the tracklist, kind of at odds with the mellow, jazzy vibe.

  • 00:00 — The Painkiller Project
  • 06:00 — War Against Myself
  • 10:44 — Paranoia
  • 15:08 — Social Distancing
  • 18:30 — Virtual Trip At Night
  • 23:07 — MASSIVE SUICIDE Online!
  • 27:53 — My Friends Are Dead
  • 32:41 — Health For The Soul
  • 37:30 — Driving to the End
  • 42:47 — Zero Signal
  • 46:11 — Useless Thoughts
  • 50:01 — Japanese Dreams (希望)

Then again, this is from earlier in 2021 and I’ve been saying for months that we always seem right on the precipice of grotesque violence, so… Maybe the album is just a reflection of all of us floating along in a slow consumer feed, acting as if everything is normal while all the grotesquery carries on all around us. Perhaps. There is no apparent answer and I could just be reaching to make some sense of it. It could just be nonsense, some dada-esque performance art. I don’t know.

It’s morning though and whatever is going to happen today, I need to get to it. Whole heapa tings a gwan. Whole heapa tings!



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