講評 : MACINTOSH PLUS – Floral Shoppe

Once again, I know it has been a while. Furthermore, I know I seem to show up whenever there is a mark to be made. But in a way, this makes sense this is a scene informed by something like history and what could be more self-reflexive and laden with irony than to reflect back at a point when we were reflecting back on something.

So what can be said that hasn’t already been said about フローラルの専門店. It was borne out of an interest in emulating this kind of sound and yet, despite this one coming out a few months before, this is the one that spawned … well. I’m not going to go through all the various meme offshoots and the like because I trust you all to explore those yourselves. Furthermore, this is more about exploring the music scene (or arguably scenes) that it did spawn.

If you’ve ever hung out with me long enough and manage to get me on this topic of conversation – and again, apologies for any repeats – I have compared this album to this one. This is mostly because of the famous Brian Eno (or at least attributed to him) quib about how only so many hundreds bought the first run, yet they all started bands. For better or for worse, this is the Millennial equivalent of that album. While VU&N provided more of a spark or an impetus to make something, this provided a template from which you could either follow or branch off of.

The template is easy to see when examining all of its components. Pastel colour scheme. Early digital art that looks to us now what wax cylinders sound like to our parents when they were kids. Greco-Roman sculpture (in this case, it’s Helios). Re-rendering of the artist title and/or album title and/or track titles into Japanese. Eccojam-style plunderphonics. That combination must made it possible for anyone who had the slightest bit of interest in making something to say “I can do this too”. And for a while, yeah you had a slew of albums that C&P using that template.

But what I find interesting are those who came afterward and, in their way, started to play with, pushed, pulled and broke the template into something else. Some expanded the visual elements to go beyond something that looks like a combination of a classic sculpture garden and Max’s Diner. Some used other non-English languages and even non-Latin characters to give it character. Some took the plunderphonics further into abstraction until you get either pure distillation of sound, something more or less original, or something else entirely. Just like rock was an ongoing reaction to rock & roll, punk and then post-punk was a reaction to CBGBs, electronic music with the avant-garde experimentations of the 1950s and 1960s, vapour started and evolved from here.

As stated a number of times, I came into all of this much later … and those would say, I came in right at a creative low point. But all the same, I came into listening to this with some benefit of hindsight. As an album on its own, it sounded like my own initial experimentations with digital audio when I was starting to learn how it all worked. Basically, it was having fun with playback speed, edits, and various other processes to manipulate sound. As I was listening to more albums from the scene and thus coming back to this, I couldn’t help but hear these as unintended seedlings for future offshoots. For instance, the first side is not only your classic vaporwave, but could also anticipate something like future funk. The second side is much more ambient and thus could get into the dreamier side of things as well as utopian virtual. This could be heard as the acorn that spawned quite an oak.

Admittedly, this is not an album I regularly listen to. And I know for the artist herself, it’s a very very very complicated relationship (and as to be expected, especially the work ends up being the biggest thing you’ve done). But listening frequency does not take away from its significance or influence. Just understand: it’s all in your hands/head. It’s your—

Album released on 9 December 2011, originally on Beer on the Rug, currently maintained by the artist

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