Liam Murphy

July 21, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Gorgeous instrumentation envelopes the listener in one of the best releases to date from an ever-imaginative artist

Vaporwave has become a genre made up of many different sounds. Based more on aesthetic than any sonic characteristic, texture and tone can vary wildly. Collections of artists happily delve into deep, rewarding subgenres, and many a legendary album is created. However, those alchemists with the ability to meld sounds and styles together are few and far between. This spectacle of coalescence is very much the strongest aspect of MUSEミューズ. 

The opener Une moderne Olympia whirs into life with warm synth akin to artists like S U R F I N G or 18 Carat Affair. The chords and samples judder and veer off course at points, diving through filters and suffering from that characteristic defunct sound of eccojams or signalwave. And glistening over the top of the murky sound is pristine percussion, reminiscent of the glossiest of vaportrap. When cross-referencing genres like signalwave and vaportrap, a glaring contrast can be heard.
VANITAS命死 happily brings these sounds and more into a fun and vibrant embrace.

There are tracks reminiscent of the more ambient side of vaporwave. Haystack at Giverny has that familiar gossamer aura. A spiral of bell sounds reaching up high into a purple skyline, before the track slams back down with crisp percussion and moody jazz melodies. the joy of painting S31 e13, Wilderness Day has a feeling of dizzying repose as well. Romantic keys waver through aqueous filters, as a saxophone with all the taut jazziness of Kenny G and all the emotion of Acker Bilk reverberates unpredictably around the cascading soundscape.

The melodic instrumentation is so pure throughout the whole of the album, at points it feels like it wants to shrivel up. Tracks like La Grenouillère seem to want to disregard restrictive quantisation and curl up in a warm ball of jazzy licks and cool chords. VANITAS命死 strides through MUSEミューズ indebted to the clean sound provided by electronic percussion, but not without utilising it to add an unforgettable dynamic between beat and melody. Sometimes the percussion will carry on with an unfaltering trajectory as the melody fails and falls out of beat, leaning into that flawed sound of eccojams. But in other moments the drumbeat will join with the nosediving sounds, with each part snagging and stuttering out of time. These moments stand out due to the artist’s otherwise pristine beat sequencing, and gift the album a truly unique spark.

The concept of vaporwave is still alive, with new artists pushing boundaries that were set out at the movement’s birth. MUSEミューズ harbours that revolutionary energy. Making use of inventive sampling and arrangement, yet still brimming with melodic brilliance, the album is a delight to experience.