Sangam x Infinity Frequencies – Grid Of Reality
Grid Of Reality
Sangam x Infinity Frequencies
November 2, 2023
식료품groceries' 슈퍼마켓Yes! We’re Open is rightly considered one of the most notable albums from vaporwave’s mid-2010s creative peak. A high-concept release recreating a utopian-virtual shopping mall, the album’s 12 tracks take the listener on a dreamy wander through the aisles. It’s an album which has been listened to and discussed for years, including a recent remastered version in 2021. The release has justifiably turned 식료품groceries into a household (get it) name within the scene.
식료품groceries' latest release, 폐점, is the final segment of his shopping-themed four-album cycle. Starting with 2014’s 슈퍼마켓Yes! We’re Open, 2015’s HOUSEWARES, 2017’s 인터넷 쇼핑 (Ascension). With this final instalment, we see the artist at his most mature and ambitious, proudly displaying how his abilities have grown and exploring the beauty of the concept he has created.
The album’s title 폐점 translates from Korean as Closed, which immediately invites comparison with 식료품groceries’ previous albums. The contrasts continue in the artwork, 슈퍼마켓Yes! We’re Open, is bright and flashy, kitsch in its stylings. HOUSEWARES is brutally glitchy and 인터넷 쇼핑 (Ascension) warped and funky. 폐점 is, by contrast, soft and organic. The album’s artwork features a striking ink drawing of a row of paper lanterns floating in the breeze above what is presumably a traditional shop. On the album’s bandcamp page a single line of text in Korean reads, “Thank you for your support of our supermarket.” This is the more mellow, thoughtful exit to the frantic shopping spree of previous albums. The sun is setting and the doors are shutting. Whether the supermarket is closing down for the evening, or forever, is left up for interpretation.
폐점 throws down the gauntlet by providing only two tracks. I and II, stretching to 23 and 19 minutes respectively. An imposing undertaking to listen to, let alone create.
Each track has multiple parts and movements with genres and sounds shifting in and out. The overall feeling is decidedly ambient but with a focus on variety which rewards repeat listens. Constructed from a mix of original music, field recordings and sampled songs, 폐점 is a collage of sonic texture. Less ambitious artists would have chopped up I and II into neat individual tracks, but by making the listener walk through each track from beginning to end 식료품groceries allows the tracks to adopt a more abstract storytelling nature. We’re being walked through a cinematic narrative from beginning to end. By way of example, opener I starts off with dreamy rain and live crowd noises in a classically ambient style, before shifting into a sharper beat-driven direction incorporating yelpy shouted vocals, it then tonally shifts again, bringing in a lush melodic piano, calling to mind the kind of easy-listening jazz that has long inspired vaporwave artists. A computerised meditative bridge follows, with crickets buzzing and a bell chiming tonally, other movements bring in yet more classic vaporwave tropes, with digital pangs of sound, digitally-reconstructed instruments and keyboards. The breadth displayed is impressive.
While the album retains elements of shopping and commercial references, the overall feeling is more varied and contemplative. It feels like 식료품groceries taking stock and responding to over half a decades worth of work. Is폐점 tracking the ups and downs of a shopping street? The emotional lives of the store employees? Their internal dramas? Ultimately, the listener has to construct their own context, because the album is endearingly coy about its true intentions. 식료품groceries themselves references this, stating that the story they’ve been weaving across four albums is “not exactly a concrete narrative, and I’m curious how others interpret it, so I don't want to give it away. Let people listen and see what they think”. Whatever narrative pathway 폐점 takes you on, you’re guaranteed that it'll be memorable.