More vaporwave! desert sand (never capitalized, so I don’t know what to do with it at the beginning of a sentence — whatever, I’m not following the rules anyway) is one or more people from England making ambient-sounding vaporwave, or post-vaporwave, or whatever this stuff is called. This group seems to be one of the most popular among the vaporwave crowd, and I can see why based purely upon a couple of listens to their album 新世界の弟子たち / New World Disciples. This is an hour plus of stretched out echoed/dreamy-sounding 80s/90s pop mall background music.
At least that’s what it sounds like to me. I’m pretty sure all these vaporwave guys use a lot of samples. That’s part of why I feel torn about the genre — I like the general sound and vibe, yeah, but some of the stuff I’ve heard just feels like the guy took “Mystical Composer”, slowed it down, and added reverb, which is fine but not all that interesting. If I want to hear that song or one like it, I prefer to listen to the original. But if the maker creates something new with those samples by making them flow into each other and setting a particular and consistent mood, that’s a different matter, and I think that’s just what New World Disciples does.
Unlike the dark ambient of an album like TOWERS, this music is relaxing, sounding like something you might hear in a mall you visit in a dream (and one that isn’t a nightmare — sadly not usually the case for my dreams, at least back when I dreamt a lot more.) That early 90s computer-generated album cover looks ominous to me with its red clouds and empty landscape aside from two of the pyramids of Giza, but the contents don’t quite match that feel. I especially like the first few tracks — putting those on loop might be a nice way to pass some time at work and maintain my sanity a little better.
I’m not in love with the whole album, especially with the pieces that contain very distorted/slowed singing. I got into that a bit with my look at Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports, but I’m not a fan of distorted human voices when they’re put into a context that’s clearly meant to be smooth or relaxed.* Thankfully, at least some of the tracks on New World Disciples don’t have any of that and work perfectly well as background mall music for me. If I ran a mall, I’d try to play this sort of music in there (only I probably wouldn’t run a mall these days considering their prospects — the closest one to me is dead and will probably never be revived. Maybe that’s part of why people feel so nostalgic over this music, because it commemorates a dead era?)
desert sand seems like a good artist to check out, especially if you’re into this kind of music. But if you are, I’m sure you already know them. They also have a nearly four hour-long album but I’m not quite ready to dive into that. Maybe if I get a massive 12-hour project I have to work on one day that’s just tedious and requires some BGM. Great album cover on that, though.
* Not a fan of a ton of vocoder like we used to get in some pop music either (though less because I find it creepy and more because it just sounds stupid.) That kind of vocal screwing around can work with Vocaloid for me though. Maybe it’s because I already know it’s electronic?