If you’ve been following what’s happening in the endlessly entertaining and entertainingly endless internet world of vaporwave you may have noticed a rift this year.
The dreamy cyber-exotica music scene spawned a bizarre anti-genre calling itself “hardvapour” revolving around the Bandcamp label Antifur.
Building a surreal alternate reality out of Eastern European imagery and a hyper-aggressive, grotesquely masculine sound, the mysterious producers use the same conceptual framework to explore an entirely different world. To put it another way, if Oneohtrix Point Never’s imaginary teen-band Kaoss Edge ever studied abroad, they’d probably end up in visiting this “Virtual Republic”.
DJ ALINA, a producer from the Ukraine known for throwing raves by the Black Sea (no, none of this can be confirmed — also, who cares?), describes her music as the first feminist hardvapour. Later this month she will release Maniax on Dream Catalogue, one of our 2016 labels to watch and a place that so much of the internet’s strangest sounds have gravitated towards.
“At the Virtual Republic you can see all types of people, but DJ Alina pays attention to the women at the party,” she wrote to me through email, “they are lost, without a voice. The power of oppression has silenced them and the only way they can escape is through the music. The rhythm is all they have to feel some sense of liberation.”
Maniax is a fascinating album simply because of those themes (the anonymity of vaporwave gives the scene its identity-freeing power, but also has allowed it to be co-opted by some of the internet’s worst communities) — as important though, it’s simply one of the best sounding examples of this ultra-niche scene yet. As ‘Bloodline”s equal parts industrial-thump and rave-shimmer shows, this would just be conceptual vapor if not for the actual music backing it up. Too use the genre’s own terminology, it’s v hard.
Listen to ‘Bloodline’ below and look for Maniax on April 26 via Dream Catalogue.