Thursday, October 11, 2012

datavis + forgotten light: prism projector (hexagon)

This is both an obituary and a baptism.

Vaporwave will turn out to have been a blip: less a genre than a methodological and conceptual gesture pursued briefly but vigorously by a number of highly prolific artists inspired by Daniel Lopatin and James Ferraro. Although it was already beginning to emerge from bedrooms/internet connections in 2011, vaporwave will have registered in the critical consciousness for only about six months, between mid 2012 and the start of 2013. And even then only in a few dark corners of the web. And then it will have vanished, its practitioners and theorists moved on to new projects, different gestures, unrelated sounds.

What’s more, there will be exceptionally little to show for it. Vaporwave will have yielded hardly any physical releases and will barely ever have been heard “live.” Apart from a bunch of MP3s, almost all of which will have been exchanged “for free” (that is, their interaction with the market will have been limited to the $$s vicariously donated to ISPs and Apple), vaporwave will have left very little mark on the world. Not just that. In 10 years’ time, virtually no one will still listen to it.

Nevertheless, vaporwave will have been important. And it will have been important because this sort of story will become ever increasingly familiar in the musical avant-garde as the decade continues. A method will be pursued, a “concept” interrogated, intensely and repeatedly, but no sooner has it been around for long enough to seem to coalesce into a genre than it will be discarded. Monikers will proliferate. Sometimes it will be possible to establish continuities between them. Often not. Lopatin and Ferraro will be gods. The only constancy according to this new model will be change. Which is not necessarily to say evolution. Evolution will have been for the Rockists. 
Prism Projector, a split cassette between Datavis and Forgotten Light, is not vaporwave, but it is crucial to understanding both how vaporwave’s practitioners work and what will become of them. Datavis is Will Burnett. Is INTERNET CLUB. Is ECCO UNLIMITED. Which is to say, one of vaporwave’s major exponents. And Forgotten Light is Leonce Nelson. Which is to say Geotherm. And La Mer. And, with Burnett, one half of Datavision Ltd. Together, the two (nine?) of them run Hexagon Recordings
What’s so interesting about this record, what makes it so pertinent in relation to my argument above, is the fact that it could hardly sound any less like vaporwave if it tried. It’s a pretty standard drone record actually...

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