microphones in the trees: July 2019

Saturday, July 27, 2019

building a better world

The long-awaited full-length album from two vaporwave legends solemnly opens Hiraeth Records, a new label created to commemorate 猫 シ Corp.'s transition to the brave new world of the original, sample-free composition, following its colleagues in the genre. With its title, album underlines the beginning of a new era, and the optimistic pixel art on the cover only reinforces the anticipation that a new page is about to turn over not only in the history of the genre – the tendency to switch to original compositions has been around for some time already – but in the world in general, IRL. After the crisis of 1999/2000 and the shock of 9/11; after the ironic, but still sometimes disquieting expectations of 2012, when the Mayan calendar promised us, like dinosaurs, if not the extinction then the evolutionary leap in an incomprehensible direction – something good and life-affirming must absolutely happen. Centuries break has always been rich with upheavals, but in fact, the whole XX century was like that. Now it is already in the past, rethought and chewed on by mass culture, sampled and passed through nostalgia filters, collapsed into a kaleidoscope of endless post-modern recursions, vaporwaved... It would seem that here it is, the future, unnoticeably becoming casual but where is it, the notorious Age of Aquarius, while our world is only gaining speed in an incomprehensible direction?

There's no big secret, however, and here you can safely quote one old book, saying that 'he who has ears, let him hear.' If the XXI century taught us anything is the value ​​of attention. Everything happening around, an endless stream of notifications, news, scandals, an endless stream of changing trends and a cacophony of opinions on any subject – all this requires our attention, feeds on it, absorbs it as raw material, in order to spew it later as goods, services, offers... Just to let them fight for our attention again. Like a virus that has practically nothing of its own, except for the gene information and uses others to live and spread, all of this is happening only because we are doing it all ourselves. Where attention is, there's energy, and the management of this flow is the real magic of our time. Black or white is no longer important, what kind of dualities can there be in the post-modern world? But the formula is simple and as old as the world itself. While our attention is occupied by commotions, they occur. Yet it takes not that much to turn our attention away for a while, on to something else, different, usually silent and overlooked – and everything can happen. That very thing so long-awaited. Maybe something that was really dreamed of, before “selling a dream” became a daily routine for all of us.

Music is a special kind of magic. It also works with attention. Directing it into the body, it encourages us to dance. Directing in emotions – to experience them, to remember similar ones. When the magic of music comes to the imagination – we begin to feel free, daydreaming. Seeing an image in which all the fuss of the past disappears somewhere far behind... Where we see the future which is not falling along the curve back into the past but flickers with bright lights of something else, yet unseen. Something even impossible to predict or describe in plain words. Rather, the feeling when intuition quietly hints that everything is going to be better. And even if it is not clear how. After all, you can imagine, direct your attention into this.

Which exactly 猫 シ Corp. and t e l e p a t h are doing on this album, carefully taking our attention by means of gentle ambient and nature sounds, guardedly directing it to the dream-like visions of the future, where serenity is normal not only in social life but on the planet as a whole. Tropical rain and the almost perceptible smell of lush vegetation coexists with shopping areas and airports (perhaps spaceports already?), colors of nature are emphasized by the smoothness of architectural forms, and the air is filled with life-giving oxygen. The music seems to be floating from one skyscraper to another, spreading over parks and streets, invisibly creating an additional dimension filled with pure energy, freely available for everyone. Like air and water, music in this world is just as life-giving, refreshing and necessary. As the mysterious still not discovered aether, it ties this vision into a single whole.

Imagining how our world can be we are bringing it closer, and let skepticism (which is raising his head immediately) rest a bit. It is still useful to us, it's a good tool, but now it is time to let go of everything that can restrain our ability to dream. After all, everyone has it, since earliest childhood. Of course, how many times have we been told that dreaming is naive? Unreal? Ineffective? How often we were afraid to give vent to ourselves, frightened by difficulties and simply saying to ourselves 'this cannot be.' Protective reactions are important too, of course. But if we want changes, if we want to breathe deeply and live our lives, then it’s time to learn how to dream properly. Ok,  what to do then? The catch is that we already have too much of everything to do. All we need is to listen. To be able to stop and look around. Gaze the clouds. To remember our dreams. Hear the trees grow. Watch sunrises and sunsets, to walk under the moon... To feel, as this magical dimension of music spreads through space, filling it with a new, exciting feeling of anticipation.