How many vaporwave artists do you believe exist? It’s not a bad question, but it’s perhaps one of the most impossible to answer. At most, those with the slightest idea of what vaporwave is can perhaps name three or four artists. Maybe even five, if you’re lucky. But even if you get five, it nowhere compares to the potential thousands of artists that are making this stuff. They might not be popular by any means, but they’re still out there.
Case in point: so far, there has only been one review of a vaporwave album on the site. The reason there haven’t been more is not that there isn’t enough music. On the contrary, all one needs to do is look at Bandcamp: there are tens of hundreds of such music being published every day. The sheer amount of albums, EPs, and singles being released is simply overwhelming. If you thought music sites who receive hundreds of submissions are overwhelmed, try searching for vaporwave yourself. The problem is that a vaporwave review could be published every single day, and there would never be a shortage of music to check out. But in the spirit of reviewing all kinds of music, vaporwave is not the singular focus of this site. Variety is the goal.
Yet today, we’re returning to vaporwave because one of its latest offerings shouldn’t be overlooked. Just like the thousands of anonymous producers who make this music, mewt8 is a producer whose location is reportedly based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. mewt8 seems to have begun producing in September 2016, and has steadily released a stream of music since. Furthermore, mewt8 appears to be part of some sort of vaporwave collective/label known as visual2000, which also includes artists like Manila, Philippines-based NewEraDreaming and Wisconsin-based Ayemdee. Apart from this, nothing else is known about the producer. mewt8’s latest release, “V I V A デイスパ,” is a singularly unique mixtape in the vaporwave community, as it mixes together the infamous slowed down and chopped-up obscure samples with original synthesizers and beats.
What should be noted first is that two versions of this album currently exist, although both are the exact same musically. The original “V I V A デイスパ ” is a 47-minute long mixtape that flows seamlessly from one song to the next. The album “V I V A デイスパ (跟踪选择)” is the same mixtape split into 13 different sections. For convenience sake, the latter album’s tracks will be referenced in this review, although I would highly suggest downloading the former album (for reasons I will explain later).
“i” starts the mixtape with cut-up samples of some sort of smooth jazz record. The unexpected juxtapositions create a surreal atmosphere that welcomes the listener into mewt8’s twisted soundworld. These flourishes climax into “ii” and “iii,” which filters R&B vocals into a bizarrely enjoyable combination of rickety hip-hop beats and chiptune synths that evoke the luxurious sheen of 1980s corporate America. “iv” is a chilled-out electro tune that feels perfect for days at the beach, but before long, it dramatically slows down into the gleefully nostalgic Muzak/hip-hop hybrid of “v”. “vi”, the longest section of the mixtape, combines more chilled-out beats with the smooth funk of dentist offices, while glitching and delaying the music into a delightful combination of dub and screwed and chopped music. “vii” returns to the smooth electro hop of “iv”, and has a great change in melody halfway through.
“viii” is a funky interlude that is reminiscent of “i”, and seems to remind the listener that this is still a warped world where you don’t know what’s coming next. Indeed, “ix” seems to return to the warped muzak of “ii”, yet the music darkens and is chopped up beyond recognition. But the buildup to the song’s saxophone solo is done extremely well and makes for a nice surprise that you don’t see coming. “x” is a relaxing interlude of smooth jazz plunderphonics, while “xi” delightfully disorientates the listener with a whirlwind of flangers and hi-hats over the slowed down obscurity. “xii” is a thumping hip-hop style track that turns the psychedelic horns and digital synthesizers into a danceable slow jam. The finale, “xiii,” is the most unexpectedly beautiful track of the entire mixtape. Unlike the heavily sampled nature of the other tracks, droning hypnotic synths pour out a beautiful chord progression while arpeggios chirp over top of the atmosphere. The only sample that seems to play is a slowed down vocal sample underneath a jaw-dropping synth lead that will make you emotional. It’s simply breathtaking.
Having reviewed every section of the mixtape, what I urge people to do is to buy/download the single track, 47-minute long mix. While I’ve given you an overview of what to expect on this tape, nothing compares to actually sitting down and letting the mixtape unfold. Every section flows seamlessly from one to another, and the effect is absolutely disorientating when put together. There are some moments where time seems to stop completely (due to the often repetitious nature of vaporwave), and others where it seems to speed up. Sometimes, the music doesn’t grab your attention, while at others, it absolutely demands it. Although most vaporwave albums are made up of tiny vignettes, this is a unique sonic journey that must be heard in its entire context. For that reason alone, you should hear it as the artist intended it to be heard.
With all this said, mewt8’s “V I V A デイスパ ” is a unique addition to the ever-increasing vaporwave scene. The continuous mixtape arrangement is original by itself, as I’ve noticed most vaporwave artists are not doing mixed albums. However, the music is also original in its attempt to add synths and drums above the plunderphonics of 80s music. Some vaporwave purists might say that such a thing would not count as vaporwave, yet in this case, the additions work wonders. It adds a different character to the samples and makes the music more enjoyable as a result. I never expected to love the vaporwave scene, but it’s artists and albums like mewt8’s “V I V A デイスパ ” that give fresh yet subtle twists to the genre. I hope there are more twists around the corner, whether they come from mewt8 or other artists.
Title: V I V A デイスパ
Genre: Ambient/vaporwave/plunderphonics/”underground club mix”
Available to download at https://mewt8.bandcamp.com/album/v-i-v-a!