Irony poisoning aesthetic as a music genre.

Anti-consumerism Music: V A P O R W A V E (ヴェイパーウェイヴ)


If you clicked this title you either have no idea what Vaporwave is or are so strung out on irony poisoning that you click anything that’s written with spaces and Japanese Katakana in it. If you have no idea what Vaporwave is, you are probably also unaware of the modern phenomena that is “Irony Poisoning”. That’s totally cool, you’re more healthy than the rest of us.

The urban dictionary defines Irony Poisoning as “[…] one’s worldview/weltshauung/ reality tunnel [being] so dominated by irony and detachment-based-comedy, that the joke becomes real and you start to do things that are immoral or wrong from a place of deep nihilistic cynicism.”

When people are poisoned it generally manifests itself into a form of racism or prejudice disguised behind a curtain of self-awareness. However, what happens when music is poisoned? I would argue a less negative effect is produced as music is incapable of thinking or having a view. It is a product of people and our ability to create it. It is what we are. Music can be racist if that was the purpose of the musician. Music can be beautiful if that was the purpose of the musician.

Vaporwave has no musician.

Now that statement isn’t entirely true. Of course, there are defining artists of the genera like Vektroid or Blank Banshee 0 that released albums like Floral Shoppe and Blank Banshee which brought Vaporwave into the mainstream. But these names mean about as much as the musicians that originally composed the Elevator Music these albums were built from.

I say Vaporwave has no musician as Vaporwave exists as a subconsciously generated form of music. It will only make sense to the smallest of niche. It will only resonate with listeners born at just the right time in just the right decade, as Vaporwave utilizes extremely niche based nostalgia.

Vaporwave fits into this niche as it often incorporates old advertising jingles from the early 90s that we all remember, but can’t trace the origin to. It utilizes old Windows computer startup noises and glitch audio feedback. It takes music that was never meant to be listened to consciously, like shopping mall ambiance and weather channel jingles, and serves it on a silver platter to listeners who are numb to today’s pop music.

This extremely limited demographic is what lead to Vaporwave being dead on arrival. Like all internet memes, they’re born, dead, revived, reanimated, repackaged, and reposted. Sometimes the more dead a meme is, the funnier it becomes. But Vaporwave being dead makes it all the more alive. The fact that it’s still listened to despite its lifespan shows that it’s “fans” like the dated nature of its existence. The fact that it sounds dated, that’s the point. That’s the style. Irony Poisoned music listeners feel the dated nature of modern music already. Many feel they might as well listen to music that was written to be dated.

Due to modern technology, the mixing and recording of music has achieved new possibilities. Things can be chopped and screwed; remixed and pirated. We live in an age of piracy. Most of us steal music, it’s part of the 21st-century experience. Vaporwave is stolen music. Yet, it steals music no one would dream of stealing, like lounge music or grocery store ambiance. Now that we live in an age where music can be so easily copied and remixed, Vaporwave truly flourishes in using music itself as an instrument. When a slowed version of the Macintosh start up noise is remixed into a song, those who grew up with that noise will project their own nostalgia and experiences into the song. It becomes more than just a jingle. It becomes a nostalgic callback. Nostalgia drives much of what we do after all. It drives our taste in music.

One day, there will be chopped and slowed versions of the popular songs of our era. The jingles and nuance will mean nothing to us, but there will be a generation born at just the right time in just the right decade and they will be deeply affected by it.

Found in Ultimate Guitar