by Kyle Fleck
on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 5:17 PM
Are you familiar with the concept of the YouTube rabbit hole? It happens when your watching/listening tastes generate a sidebar of "similar" videos, which, wanting to check out something new, leads you to click on them, which generates another sidebar, and so on and so forth until you realize, as I did today, that I'd spent roughly three hours lost in the murky world of vaporwave.
For those not in the know, vaporwave is a strain of sampleadelic electronic music, whose practitioners replicate or downright rip off the soundtracks of '80s informercials, job-training videos, and all manner of fluorescent-beige media, then dose them with elephant-leveling amounts of Xanax to fascinatingly disorienting effect. My favorite artist in this vein would be Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), who posts disturbing little vignettes of mush-mouthed MOR under the alias sunsetcorp:
Anyway, SAINT PEPSI's album Hit Vibes put a quick end to my trip down the rabbit hole, because I put it on repeat as soon as I came across it.
Upon first listen, you may be wondering what this jacked-up medley of shimmery disco and occasional Dilla-fied soul-bap has to do with that vaporwave business I was talking about above. Listen closely though, and you realize that their commonality, as Adam Downer put it in his excellent review, is that this is music "awash in the dangerously alluring high of buying, of participating in the ad-man-invented zeitgeist," earlier comparing the sound of the album to the "impossible party that’s happening ... because of shitty beer."
What we have here's the shiny surface of fun but no heart nor brain to animate it, to make you believe it. The tracks begin like the best Avalanches cuts and then filter their million-dollar grooves in and out until they become meaningless mantras of can-do positivity, pushing them into states of delusional oblivion. The album is the soundtrack for white-collar drones whose diets consist of those training videos, those 4am QVC ads for knives and watches, all dancing together in some anonymous, infinite clubscape. It's weirdly depressing, uplifting and vacuous all at once.