Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
Sometimes we can forget that sub-genres of electronic music like vaporwave are so popular because of the style’s applicability toward razor-sharp critiques of contemporary issues. So many albums have wielded the power to force us to question the life we lead and the society we submit to. This fact has been somewhat overshadowed in recent times by an obsession with practical method, that at some point outpaced the social commentary that could be illustrated through the medium. Albums that ape what have come to be known as classics in the genre have saturated the landscape, much like the commercial world that the music is so heavily indebted to. Releases come and go that have all the characteristics on point, with no real drive behind the melody and sound. And now a sift through modern vaporwave releases feels like a dull search through a crowded market with occasional sparks of real meaningfulness.
In this respect, sometimes the best thing to help cure this hypnotic cycle is a rerelease of an album from days gone by. A revisit to vaporwave at its most evolved. This is exactly what Geometric Lullaby have done with their reissue of CLASSROOM SEXXTAPE BY death’s dynamic shroud.wmv.
DO U LIKE ME? begins the album. A slightly demonic sounding girls voice demands the listeners attention from the very outset. Her questions revolve constantly, as her voice becomes more and more detached from a human context through its juddering nature and endless repetition. An abstract, skeletal landscape appears behind the voice. Percussive sounds echo in the background like gunfire from a nearby area. Haunting strings take over the instrumentation. The facile, surface-level aesthetic of the track falls away to reveal a dizzying gigantic world of echoed choir vocals and minor chords played through a wavering organ.
DISNEY PRINCE$$ is hemmed in by a large equalisation that encases everything in the song within pillars of bass-y noise. A sample of a human voice is clearly audible, but the exact nature of the sample is not revealed to us, rather obscured so we can just make out the fragile nature of it. The melody is somewhat happy and benign, but the production forces us to take notice of the noises on the periphery of the soundscape. There lie sporadic chanting voices, counterpointed by beautiful vocals sung by a male voice that appear and exit randomly throughout.
WINDOW SHOPPING starts out like a Kid A-period Radiohead song, with melancholic acoustic guitars propping up tremolo-ed, fragile melodies. A voice, pitched-up in a way that falls into an uncanny valley of innocence, laments in the echoed landscape. A sense of enforced innocence and infantilisation runs throughout the album. but is most noticeable here. Even the title connotes some happy go-lucky spree in the local mall. Halfway through, the guitar disappears, followed by bubbling, high notes and somnambulist melodies. The familiar sound of a shopping malls falls into place in the background. And all of a sudden, the carefree melody dancing through the mall is met with a distorted, lumbering sample of Panty Wetter by Trey Songz. The sample jars the song, as its sexualised nature warps the feeling of the track, the naive and innocent sounding melodies tinged with a horrific, androcentric desire. death’s dynamic shround.wmv forces us to confront the hyper-sexualisation integrated within even a simple shopping trip.
GIRL ON THE INTERNET borrows the same sampling style as the listener is met with more trappy percussion borrowed from Chris Brown. The crosshair set on modern R&B is strikingly intentional, as the style has been the genre of choice for artists that seek to sexualise femininity and infantilise women. The sample is accompanied by swirling melodies that mesh perfectly with the bass’s progression, and as the sample drops out, we whirl uncontrollably with the waltzing instrumentation that the track has created.
✰RARE EMOJI COLLECTION✰ starts with menacing synth vocals that stutter and glitch in time with a marching rhythm. As the beautiful, choral sounds go from juddering to beautifully smooth we understand the intricate design of each track. The voices slowly descend, and the production reflects that, as death’s dynamic shroud.wmv fractures notes significantly and has them violently interject. A repeating voice brings about a huge snare and a melody line that gives the track a beautifully triumphant feel. As if the listener has indeed found a hidden set of emojis that seek to describe a sublime feeling between triumph and heartbreak. The samples follow the artists lead, they bend and shift into different, beautiful melodies. The euphoric nature of the track almost extinguishes the sharp commentary that is much more explicit elsewhere on the album. But death’s dynamic shroud.wmv does not let us escape just yet.
AMATEUR begins with more fractured sampling, this time of organic instruments. The strings dance in the echoed landscape. Again, we hear the slight bending and cutting of samples to fit a very distinct sound and purpose. Just as we settle in, we are hit with more heavy-handed drums and screeching, arpeggiated synth. Instrumentation slowly fits behind the synth line, percussion sounding once again like gunfire. And yet another voice lies trapped behind the noise. At the 2-minute mark, the samples give way to the constant pressure being asserted. Breaking and disappearing from the scene without warning. Gargling synths and random notation takes prominence. An untuned whistling stumbles through notes, trying it seems to find some sort of beautiful tune. Once again, death’s dynamic shroud.wmv shatters the fourth wall of his song. The ‘Apex’ ringtone from iPhone fractures the dissonant tune, letting the now-menacing percussive section seep back in and infect the instrumentation. It’s a real crystallising moment that helps one to really understand the counterpoint at play in the album. The real with the digital. The boundaries shattering and falling into each other once and for all.
FAVSTAR GAZING introduces the listener to another gloomy landscape of reverb and whirring percussion. A lone bell sound weasels its way out of the murk. Fast paced bass drums keep the track restrained within the shadowy landscape. It feels as though we are leaving some huge warehouse rave, the last of the night’s songs dying slowly in the cold morning air. That familiar, distant voice glitching endless loop rises through the throng of deep, thoughtful sound. That feminine identity that just lies outside the boundaries of our comprehension. The melodies slowly amble to the fore of the soundscape, finding a steady rhythm. And after a short interval of cacophonous sounds, all percussion is wiped out by a steady, strong bass noise. A descending choir settle us into the new surroundings, as a fragmented female voice stutters incoherently. The changes in pace are so explicitly purposeful, yet death’s dynamic shroud.wmv’s intention is so encased in secrecy and abstract methodology. A robotic voice speaks of twerking and the annoyance of studying and gossip. It’s tone lacks any emotional journey or diction, and our reactive feeling is one of unease.
SIDE ℬÆ「究極のカタルシス」 slams unforgivingly into frame. Stuttered drum patterns give way to a beautiful melody. An innocent chord progression begins, before crescendoing as we are treated to the most straightforward and euphoric motif on the album, almost sounding like Explosions in the Sky recreated by bells and gently crocheted sampling. An octave-spanning bass line murmurs in the background. Glittering shards fall all around us, an overwhelming screeching voice drives us back into the tumult of drums and sampled euphoria. That behemoth comes to a stop, and we think we are being played out a by a light sample of bells. Not the case. We are almost knocked out by the swift rising of another sample, damning and intense. death’s dynamic shroud.wmv doesn’t give us the answers easily, but there is an overwhelming sense of bipolar emotion packed tightly into every track.
MY WIFE, WHO I STILL LOVE begins with echoed vocals sounding like a Simple Minds’ track. The 80s melodies and motifs are apparent. Will the end to our journey be an unpredictable change of pace? Bathed in reverb and honest emotion? We’ve been thrown around so much it’s hard to know what to expect a this point. A lonely tone shows the heartfelt vocals the pathway they should follow. A chirping phone-like sound disturbs the purity of the track; most likely our friend, desperate to get a hold of us as we disappear into some bittersweet abyss accompanied by this beautiful, revolving vocal motif.
We are almost struck dead by the twists and turns we’ve had to endure, only to end on an undisturbed soliloquy. death’s dynamic shroud.wmv are absolutely unrelenting in their style. Forcing us to withstand beautifully crafted sounds alongside harsh and dissonant samples. To someone going into the album thinking that the theme and issue being tackled will pleasantly trot out in front of the listener, I’m afraid you are not so lucky. But it is there, undeniably placed within this deeply engaging album.
Listen to the original release here: https://orangemilkrecords.bandcamp.com/album/classroom-sexxtape
Listen to the re-release and purchase physical edition here: https://geometriclullaby.bandcamp.com/album/classroom-sexxtape