Review Summary: ESPRIT, I know what you're showing me is cool, but you don't have to show it to me for the 156th time!
Okay, so, vaporwave. I love(d) it. If I feel like dreaming to an uninterrupted flow of moody, psychedelic, corny music, I'll gladly put on some vaporwave. Or at least, I'll put on the 44:44 minutes t e l e p a t h album or Celebrating Digital Artefacts by Dante Mars Ajeto!. When I first got into vaporwave, I was obviously the brainless fanatic who didn't step back for a minute, and who just consumed it constantly, although I did vibe with some artists better than others. One of these artists was ESPRIT, and specifically this album, virtua.zip. Now, I used to think this release was ***en epic and an absolute masterpiece. But does it stand the test of time?
This album is admittedly pretty unique. “virtua.zip” blends seapunk and vaporwave, as well as adding a lot of original compositions alongside the samples. The tracks are essentially simple, improvised ideas extended and repeated for around 1-2 minutes, keeping you in a sea of vibez all the way through (hopefully), with all sorts of pads and effects (did I mention the production was grandiose?). Usually I dislike it a whole lot when I can recognize the sample; however, ESPRIT is able to utilize his samples in a manner that’s natural and authentic. This can be seen on ‘Iwillbe.wav’, which features MegaMan samples combined with tropical-sounding synths/melodic percussion. Another quality this album has is that it consistently delivers drowsy, sugary, but also soothing and infectious atmospheres to trap you in a constant repeat cycle. ‘Slowjet.wav’ and ‘Peter.wav’ are possibly the best examples of this, the former featuring a smooth-but-punchy bass line, and the latter a simple but cool beat grooving under straightforward synths plus a catchy vocal hook.
But with all this delivery comes a major problem. All of the base ideas are excellent, but the tracks follow the same exact formula a la 18 Carat Affair where the idea is superb, but only developed in a simplistic fashion, if at all. The craft of this album is (un)intentionally minimal, but at times (and depending on your mood) it can feel so, so, SO horribly poor(this is especially true for the original composition); and I can say without hyperbole that all the tracks suffer from this. There are more nuances in “virtua.zip” than in 18 Carat Affair’s albums, as a whole, but honestly, that’s not saying much. In turn, it causes the ‘WOW effect’ to slowly fade away when you realize how empty of complexity and overbearingly repetitive this album is. It’s a shame, because when I see ESPRIT’s liveshows, they are far more creative compared to his studio outings. But hey, this was a stepping stone for vaporwave, and it has become part of the Vaporwave Essentials Guide: Nu Edition, so I guess it's still alright after all.