Review Summary: vaporwave is dead, long live vaporwave
Daniel Lopatin is a man of many personas and talents. Most know the Brooklyn-based musician as Oneohtrix Point Never, an outfit that has garnered widespread critical acclaim among many mainstream publications in part due to its cinematic flair and atmospheric provocations, or as the second half of revivalist duo Ford & Lopatin, with Tigercity frontman Joel Ford. But perhaps his most evocative and influential venture has been as Chuck Person, for Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1
. The album is credited with devising the ill-fated vaporwave movement, influencing such contemporaries like Vektroid and Internet Club. And yet, Eccojams
is far from the genre's most pure example of what it represents.
For starters, the record is largely devoid of any thematic direction, save for the twisted cover artwork that features the beloved Sega Genesis game Ecco the Dolphin. Gone is the corporatist/anti-corporatist subject matter that permeates most of vaporwave's releases, and what is left over remains a murky, deliriously twisted piece of chopped & screwed 80s and 90s, which, for the most part, is better without any thematic direction. The sampling is also superb, featuring a miasma of operatic selections. It's very possible for Lopatin to frame his songs with bargain-bin pop on one track, and then feature prominent mainstays of music, like Michael Jackson or Marvin Gaye, on the ensuing track. Eccojams
' repetitive nature also predominantly works in its favor. Despite repetition usually regarded as a negative aspect on most albums, here it shines by virtue of how the LP ebbs and flows, Lopatin's compositional brilliance coming into light here. Without looking at your media player, or obsessively poring over each nuance and vocal tick on Eccojams
, it's nearly impossible to discern concrete beginnings or endings, and somehow becomes more cohesive in the process.
What Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1
has come to represent almost 4 years after it was released, no one expected. Indeed, with many regarding vaporwave as an annoying spectacle that is better left buried, one could wonder if this collection could be looked at as ground zero for the movement , and that would be a damn shame. Hypercontextualization of such a landmark record, stuffed with an amalgam of genres, would betray the work that Lopatin has lovingly crafted. It may be a genre-definer, but it's simultaneously a scintillating example of what vaporwave was capable of, and not truly vaporwave in the slighest.