猫 シ Corp.






Hiraeth is a tropical metropolitan Vaporwave-based duality by Hallum, Netherlands-based producer 猫 シ Corp., pronounced Cat System Corp.; as is the case with almost all Vaporwave vestiges and intact exhibits, I assume that 猫 シ Corp. is based on one male producer. The truth, however, could be very different, as depicted by the artist himself in the lower photograph.  Hiraeth presents the whopping amount of 24 short tracks, is                              Photo by 猫 シ Corp. released in April 2014 in an edition of – now sold-out – 30 limited tapes but can still be streamed and purchased digitally at Bandcamp. The producer describes the meaning and concept of Hiraeth as “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.” In this interstice of opposing forces, the album is situated. 猫 シ Corp. further adds that “each track contains a reference to retro/modern (pop) culture,” and it depends on the listener whether this is seen as a revelation, threat or some sort of solace. It certainly is tailored to a certain clientele of erudite eremits who will easily pinpoint the R’n’B references, Funk fluids and Fusion freshness. But Hiraeth is not solely based on down-pitched Pop goodness. There are delightful moments of thickly wadded synth-based Ambient pieces. Thus, the term Vaporambient is coined and used by the artist, and fittingly so. I cannot possibly review all of Hiraeth’s 24 expectedly stylized and cheekily titled tracks, but pick up quite a few which I deem aesthetically relevant, either because they are truly mesmerizing, willfully residing in the diametrically opposite direction or are simply of a sumptuously spermatocystic kind that lives up to the winding roads or crepuscular compunctions of today's asthenic (or was that ascetic?) bedroom producers.


Hiraeth I is the gateway to the ethereal worlds of 猫 シ Corp., and whatever the listener expected heretofore, the trains of thoughts are outmatched and surpassed with an unexpectedly crystalline antrum of softly sweeping synth reticulations and cautiously frizzling wind gusts of purity. Harboring languor and yearning, this opener is New Age’s next of kin and a tasteful prelude of the things to come. And as outlined before, there are plenty of sparklers to follow: A500 〔緑死〕GenSys exchanges the elasticized legato profusions of the opener for MIDI-based breakbeat brass blebs whose fanfares – or fanfaronades – scythe through a Glitch-oriented scratch-infested city stroller beat frame that takes place somewhere in a polished concrete jungle, with the futuristic follow-up Emerald 都市 2070 annihilating any polyhedric structure in favor of a sharpened dressed-to-size Vaporwave artifact par excellence comprising of a slowed down Contemporary Jazz segue loaded with a classic drum kit, sleazy electric guitars and sonorous piano prongs. Long live muzak!


iColluseum 山Dew breathes the mephitic Vaporwave atmosphere yet again as 猫 シ Corp. creates a sizzling melting pot of asphyxiating cannelures. Slowed down cyber groves of the R’n’B era proudly showcase over-the-top helixes of horns, coruscating electric pianos, histrionic longitudinal airflows and whiney choruses whose polyphony seem like opprobrious lamentos. 羽雨APPLE abc basks in the same chopped influx of thinly veneered, hopelessly calcined brass bursts, superdirty wah wah scintillae and vocals that were once based on a Pop star’s theophany, but now struggle with gigantomachy in this efflorescently droning intermission, whereas ☆Turtle Islands☀ is a turquoise-colored, wondrously diaphanous beach scenery full of apocryphal ocean waves washing over the already familiar ingredients of electric guitars, hyper-euphonious woodwinds and Funk catenae. Here, the good mood works to the vignette’s advantage and delivers an awful short moment of superfluous insouciance. Thematically attached is the nocturnal luminescence of 【Twin Palms】 and its undercurrents of faux-marimbas, gleaming synth vesicles and a steamy beat which schleps itself forward through the night.


And so the album moves on with a steady current of crisp shorties. The moment of revelation comes in the shape of Eden Transit, a long-form piece in the given endemics of over four minutes. Returning back to the diamond diorama of Hiraeth I, its benignantly balmy synth flumes, distant seagulls and susurrant wisps create a sanctuary, a shelter to relax and hold on to. A high-plasticity endeavor and more of a mirage or a figment than a harsh Vaporwave critter, Eden Transit is a great pitstop… or so it seems, for The Hanging Garden floats into this circumambience with its sunken city atmosphere, Angkor arcana and exhaling stokehold romance. With the triumphal procession and seraphic synth choirs of Umbrella ☂ Foundation behind, ▒▓madobe ガールフレンド unleashes that early morning get-outta-bed work ethos qua its pointillistic syrinxes and Industrial beat structure. The synthetic horns reveal that this is yet another one of those feel-good R’n’B crawlers. Nothing is too shameful for Vaporwave artists. Marble Fountain returns to the rectilineal, streamlined crystal patterns of New Age, with the delicately echoey LacunaLife making enough room for the afterglow of the hi-hats and drums to sizzle into the distance where the closer Hiraeth II awaits with a gorgeously helicoidal fluorescence of pristine purity with almost ecclesiastic synth pad bolsters and thickly wadded Ambient swooshes.


As with the majority of Vaporwave artifacts, Hiraeth is all about the magic moment, aggrandized acatalepsy or flimsy fugacity in lieu of an eclectically carved out formation of tone sequences. The quantity of the presented material and the constant nods to pop culture have their respective charm, believe you me, for these supernal bubbles gain a loftiness through their time-related boundaries which they would have lost otherwise. Having said that, there is of course a certain rusticity that cannot be denied when one faces a flood of short interim instances. Like an octopus with one too many tentacles or a spider with too many legs for a femme suzette to even glimpse at, Hiraeth develops a kind of flurry or vortex that is not completely encapsulating the listening subject due to the varied quality of the material. Said material is of course deriving from that place called “somewhere else” more often than not, but I sense that a few ameliorations or ornaments have indeed been grafted onto the sceneries by 猫 シ Corp. himself. Maybe there are even whole songs that have been structured by the anonymous composer from the Netherlands. I am thinking of the album’s two eponymous title tracks, but even if I’m wrong, then the callisthenics of the breakbeat material do still exude that retrogressive aura. The ideal listener would best be fond of Vaporwave material one way or the other, for there is no denial: Hiraeth is proudly based on the past, but seems to break the spell in order to not only present the past as it was, but to evocate it by different, more original means. Those listeners who grew up with the fusillades of brass-heavy Funk, Fusion and whatnot will either see the constant omnipresence of these devices as a boon or an affront. No matter this tendency, Hiraeth gleams, develops its fair share of virtual tropicana and is closely tied to the the very movement that doesn’t take itself all too seriously.


Further listening:

The tapes are sold out, but the digital incarnation of Hiraeth can still be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.


Ambient Review 337: 猫 シ Corp. – Hiraeth (2014). Originally published on Apr. 30, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.