Vaporwave certainly has an aesthetic. What that aesthetic is, though, varies depending upon who you talk to.
Artist VHSthetics provides their own take on the Vaporwave music aesthetic on the album, Emotional Attachments to Inanimate Objects. The album, released in May of 2016, takes listeners on a journey to the year 2084 sometime after America has won World War III.
Like other Vaporwave music, the album tells a story. VHSthetics reveals that this is the tale of Jing-Sheng, who is living a post-apocalyptic, capitalism saturated life in the metropolis of Hong Kong. One of Jing-Sheng’s few comforts is the peace he find in his apartment with his robotic maid, ROSI, whom he has become deeply attached to.
Jing-Sheng’s life is turned upside down one day when ROSI realizes she is outdated compared to other newer robots in Hong Kong. Unable to fully compute what this means, she suffers an internal meltdown of her circuitry, throws herself from a window, and is smashed to pieces upon the street below.
As VHSthetics states, “This album is a love story of things and how easily they can be replaced.” Such insights into the artist’s mind eludes to the untold end of the story. With ROSI gone, Jing-Sheng purchases a new, robotic maid and falls in love again.
Having this story in mind, the album Emotional Attachments to Inanimate Objects provides the listener with an exceptional experience of the Vaporwave art form. The first track, “2084 (A City in Sorrow)” is a fitting opening to the futuristic streets of Hong Kong. The slow, bassy sounds – so often heard in Vaporwave music – mix with an 8 bit melody and the ambient noise of the city traffic. The song ends with a door opening, as we enter Jing-Sheng’s apartment.
“Aesthetic Limbs” walks the listener through a dark apartment filled with inanimate objects of the future. A robotic voice can be heard. Is this ROSI’s greeting? The next track, “Physical Affection,” mixes smooth synthesized jams with the loving electronic chirps of modems and tinny audio fragments. Jing-Sheng’s feelings for his robot maid are clear.
The title track “Emotional Attachments to Inanimate Objects” assumes a decidedly darker tone. A slowed, deep voice can be heard singing. This is undoubtedly the moment ROSI has realized her own obsolescence. Halfway through the song, it changes tempo and returns to the theme previously heard in the first track on this Vaporwave album.
ROSI’s voice sings out, “Thank you but I have no soul. I lost all control. I’m a mirage in your mind.” She steps to the edge and falls to the street below. The album ends with the song “Stages,” which is a fitting outro of ambient melodies, noises made by electronic devices, and fading sounds of the city at night.
The album Emotional Attachments to Inanimate Objects by VHSthetics is a solid listen for anyone interested in the Vaporwave art and storytelling through aesthetic music.
Album: Emotional Attachments to Inanimate Objects
Length: 26 minutes
Released: May 16, 2016
Available on: Bandcamp