microphones in the trees: virtual dream plaza / useless / saturn's daughter

Thursday, December 06, 2018

virtual dream plaza / useless / saturn's daughter

When vaporwave legend t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 declared that he's opening a cassette label, people were sure there will be something vaporwave related. Since Mr. Telepath himself is responsible for introducing quite a few vaporwave subgenres, many were convinced that we about to experience some huge doses of slushwave, hypnagogia, Japanese smooth jazz edits or, most certainly, some ambient vaporwave blissfulness mastered by Telepath in his Virtual Dream Plaza project - especially since this name was borrowed for the label. The latter turned out to be the truth, but to even bigger and more pleasant degree (at least for me personally) - the newborn label started to release not just vaporambient (which usually is just way too much slowed down version of classic vaporwave), but some real quality ambient and drone music made without sampling and stealing. Which seems to be the next (and well-expected) step in the development of vaporwave scene.

Looks like history made a circle once again, but that doesn't really matter here, especially when you tune in to these drones. Drone music has always been a point of return to any "musical research projects" (say experimental genres) and took many forms even throughout the years this blog exists. Once an artist starts to look deeper and gravitates to the source, there will be drone, an endless field of enormous potentials. Vaporwave or not, millennials, new agers, hippies or scientists - there's no significant difference between the drones, say, Eliane Radigue recorded in the '70s and Telepath did in '10s. Of course, we can argue the sound, instrumental approach, the context and so on but that would lead us to nonsensical arguments like "it used to be better before" or even worse elitism. What is crucial here is the intention, the mindset which brings the artist to taking long duration excursions inside the realm of a single tone and which mindset it brings to us, the listeners.  

Translating his Virtual Dream Plaza moniker to Japanese and joining the tape with Useless with Vaperror's Jeff Cardinal behind it, this tape presents us a fresh vision of the drone music. Technically it may sound pretty much same as it was back in the '80s when Robert Rich recorded Trances/Drones or many other modern drone-ambient projects, yet intuitively it brings an important message from the "vaporwave" (read postmodernist) world. The future is now. It always was. But right here and right now it is looking at us through the ocean of possibilities. We can see its eyes. We can play as many games as we want, we can do whatever we want with the planet and our lives... but in the eternity of the parallel universes, there always will be the future where the harmony was achieved. And it guides us through the peripeteia of existence giving us hints to its omnipresence and inevitability. One of those hints is the drone music for sure. And it guides us through the eternity of multiverse. 

When the drone music hints not just to eternity and transcendence but also weaves its tapestries back down to the Earth, usually term New Age comes into play, implying certain use of the music. Though it always was present through music history, the idea of Sound being able to heal or to help with meditation or anything still faces a lot of misreadings. Of course, there are artists which are okay with the exploitative element in this equation, while the others insist on the idea of music being self-sufficient. Yet, quite often we can see the music being made for certain purposes which may affect the perception of it, giving the listener a one-dimensional experience. Certainly, no one takes seriously some "Music for Spa and Meditation" these days and if you are familiar with vaporwave agenda, you'll probably see such title as ironic and maybe even buy it to listen to it through that irony. But what are you going to do if you'll really enjoy it? It seems that somehow irony became a necessary tool in our world of multiplying meanings and it infects the music to the degree when one can say "in the world where vaporwave happened - everything is vaporwave now". Nothing is taken as it is, statements are vague. Saying that music is self-sufficient in such setting is nonsense. All is vapor, all is ambient, just a background for some other things which are backgrounds too. No center, endless drift through sensations... 

That's why the words like healing or transcendence can be just vague labels to tag this music somehow, and that's why the initial New Age idea of music being a form of spiritual practice meets the irony today and dissipates in the air. Without the irony, we will have to believe that some of the backgrounds are actually foundations and some of the words are actually mean what they supposed to. And having that coordinate system set, we'll be able to transcend somewhere else. Endless drift stops and we start to see things clear, transparent. So if the irony is kind of glasses to makes things vague, the transcendence is taking them off. Drone music works this way, and that is healing. When you drift through the endless weavings of Saturn's Daughter's drones, there always a possibility to slip through them to a completely different level. Every tiny sound which accompanies these drones can be an entry point for you. At this level it doesn't really matter how long these drones are and what happens around them - they are built so exquisitely, that putting them on repeat one can easily transcend the sense of time and spend a whole day in this state. And letting yourself do that would be the best gift you can give yourself. Stopping the drift of emotions, thoughts, and meanings. Letting all things become transparent. Call it meditation, healing, transcendence, magic... but it feels that for our mind it exactly the same as drone to music. The point of eternal return and eternal stay. The possibility of everything and at the same time - nothing. 

It is really inspiring to see such magically powerful sounds released on a newborn label from vaporwave world. It really puts some bigger perspective on this scene which is often referred to as a joke. Yes, experimental cassette scene made a full circle once again but a closer look reveals a spiral. And it goes upwards with some beautifully ringing overtones.