It has been a while since I have done one of these reviews. Plus, I think it is best to go OG-VW every now and then. And you cannot get any more old school than INTERNET CLUB, the most well-known moniker of Robin (was Will) Burnett. And here, we are REDEFINING THE WORKPLACE.
As of writing this, I have only listened to about half of the IC discography. I know there are an assortment of one offs like Datavision Ltd., memorex dawn, and of course, the pinnacle of baffling experimentation. And I believe the themes and ideas addressed here are found in the other IC albums as well. But this seems to be one most talked about and praised when mentioning IC and it does seem to be the apex of that particular sound and affect.
The album itself is a 75 minute journey into what sounds like the soundtrack to a corporate environment. I would not be surprised if the sound sources stem from various corporate media: your training videos, your stock background music for the lobbies, and, yes, the music you are most likely to hear when placed on hold. But in true plunderphonics fashion with a vapour twist, these typical sounds sound quite atypical. Whether it’s employing frequency filters, glitchy loop editing or quick panning to make even the most adventurous seafarer woozy, this is an office with an edge. And for the icing on the cake, you have a computer rendering of what looks like the slickest and cleanest extra-urban office park complex ever.
I want to talk about this now because I have personally reached an interesting point in my own life. While my true passion is and will always be music (and, if so prompted, film), I have to resort to non-music means in order to pay the bills. Counting the times I worked during the summer school breaks, I have been in some kind of office environment for about two decades. (Funny enough, my office career began around the time this film entered and left theatres, later to become a significant cultural/social touchstone in its own right.) Right now, I am enjoying a nice peak position in the day-job career. The company recently moved to a brand new location out in the ever-developing Seaport district of Boston. The building is not that far-off from the one depicted in its album cover (and its pending next neighbor will look even more like it). Furthermore, I was able to obtain my own private office (complete with door) and am gradually making more adjustments as they become available to me.
Yet before I reached that point, I had to deal with an assortment of other environments. There were some that were quite nice yet I did not get that personal office. There were some that seem to have peaked long ago. Some were quiet, others were quite noisy. Some were accommodating and others were stifling. And then there’s the interpersonal exchange where it was largely good with a few mishaps here and there (and yes, a fair chunk of those were my fault). But mostly I just wanted to do my job in some kind of peace and music was a way to create a world onto myself. After all, how else was I able to do a crash course of vapour history?
I made a comment on the Vapor Memory upload of this album (linked at the bottom) where I noted how it evokes an environment that many of us deal with at best and despise at worst. Yet by listening to this album, we are choosing to be in this place. I concluded in my pithy way that the difference was being a matter of choice rather than fulfilling an obligation. In other words, this office complex is a world of our choosing. After all, the accommodations can be quite posh and wouldn’t it be great to enjoy it without having to deal with things like meetings in lieu of e-mails, overtly chatty colleagues, speaking in procedural and internal lingo and always aware that one bad action can mean the end of everything? This ability to enter into a universe on-demand through music is certainly what has kept me passionate about both listening to and making my own. With music, you can create any world you want. With vapour, you can even take the worlds you don’t normally care for and finally make it your own.