Golden Living Room
Welcome Home






Welcome Home is an eleven-track locale created by Wichita-based artist Golden Living Room. Released in August 2014 on the not so secret headquarters of reveries called Dream Catalogue, the album can be received and streamed at Bandcamp or bought on tape which is released on the This Ain't Heaven label here. As the front artwork and title already suggest, this is most definitely not an ethereal trip to checkerboard-underlined dolphin-in-the-sky cyber worlds. In lieu of such coruscating spheres, the artist goes all-in when it comes to a certain force that is almost always injected into the Vaporwave genre, but not necessarily a driving factor: Ambient. Be it staccato jungle moulds, jazzier counterparts or Funk escapades, Vaporwave’s gonna grab dem goode alright, but Ambient is always near the epicenter, or the very least hinted at. This might happen via polyphony, field recordings or the superimposition of nostalgia that’s playing a trick on the listener.


Welcome Home differs in that it embraces Ambient wholeheartedly. Vaporwave becomes more of a vestige here, although camouflaged game soundtracks, muffled voices and plain vocals are presented as well. Golden Living Room’s alternative approach can best be compared with HyperGanesh’s Stay Awake (2014) which is also released on Dream Catalogue. Compare the front artworks: HyperGanesh offers a view onto a nocturnal cityscape from one’s luxurious flat. Golden Living Room offers the same view… but here the cityscape is displayed on one’s TV! Metropolitan thoughts seem somewhat fuzzy, limewashed and far away in Welcome Home, leaving room for soothingly droning Ambient sinews and legato falls to undulate. This promising approach will be further inspected, followed by a delineation of the potential pitfall that comes with it.


Come Home is not just an opener or a mere benign title – it is an elixir of life for many a BGM aficionado and video game connoisseur. Mixing the cautiously slowed down MIDI guitar of the FFVII soundtrack with extrinsic Hammond organ rivulets, the album’s inaugural track radiates golden rays of comfort. Computer Healing then mixes esoteric erethism with electronic eclecticism, comprising of gorgeously crystalline fractal shards of cyan chromaticity with seesaw synth structures glowing in the background. This is music for a floatation tank, although waaaay too short, alas. The following Dreams relies on a similarly oneiric mélange, but is more lacunar, somewhat cavernous. Artificial syrinx blotches are placed in adjacency to a TV running in the background. The effect, though commonplace, is astonishing: one really feels the depth of the living room, the simultaneity of celestial transcendence and earthbound commodity makes for an aesthetic success and encapsulates the concept of Vaporwave flawlessly.


While the next tune Oh Yeah is situated in the Mediterranean mountains thanks to its absconded bonfire rurality which is merged with mellow J-Pop tone sequences in tandem with moaned wordless vocals, Sleeping In The Night is all about the serration of dripstone memories and nebulous airfields. More withdrawn and lactal, this is pure Ambient in lieu of Vaporwave. Formerly glacial chimes are slowed down in order to resemble temple gongs, and that’s fine with me as well.


The dreamlike sub-theme is further carved out by Golden Living Room in the next track: Flying In Your Sleep is an admittedly chintzy title that evokes unwanted flashbacks of a wig-wearing Dustin Hoffman (hint: I’m not referring to Tootsie), but it is a great – and equally long – appendix to the previous Sleeping In The Night as the same synth base serves as the bokeh for accompanying vocals. This endeavor, however, can be considered dubious and way too corny, for the vocalist garfunkels his way through the Vaporwave ether, and I for one don’t want that in me Seapunk material. But no harm done, it is an experiment after all! Whereas Penultimate Selection returns to superbly warped shuffles of elasticized, pitched sapphire glints and sweeping cymbal cataracts, In Between Loops is another diamond whose polyhedric edges have been sanded; a crystalline electric piano and its mellow afterglow is all there is, but it’s more than enough due to the sumptuous texture.


Afterwards, Losing It (For The Princess) marks the first instance of a grainy filter that is applied to another well-known melody, making it seem much more rustic and rubicund than before. Instead of voluminous synths, the state is willfully emaciated and dithery. The supplement Apophyllite (For The Princess) already carries the addendum state in its title. It is based on the same premise: mana melodies are viewed under a fractured microscope, adding static jitters to a formerly pristine state. The yearning therefore grows and is finalized with the long-form corker of way over eight minutes called Supreme Onlooker, the last piece of ambience filled with public service announcements, sizzling hiss moirés, dark matter space pads and zoned out drone washes. The second part is especially wonderful due to its bells, chimes and whistles. A glassy/glossy synthesis.


Welcome Home is a terrific release, and then again it might be not, depending on one’s specific viewpoint. Naturally, this applies to virtually all media and artistic installations, but in regard to Golden Living Room’s album, the case in point leads to its laid-back approach and celestial aura. It certainly undermines a Vaporwave fan’s expectations by a wide margin, the labyrinthine sub-styles and varying production techniques notwithstanding. Welcome Home is not based on weird samples, vocal snippets or turbulent scintillae, let alone breakbeat vestibules leading to the 80’s. No, Ambient is its real core, pure Ambient even, with no beat in sight and rarely a cymbal to be dropped. Depending on the listener, the time of day, or heck, even one’s sanity, Welcome Home is either the perfect antidote or way too tame. But I tell you what: its purity is magnificent!


The hyperpolished surfaces of the synths are awash with light, gleaming like magic. The concept of the album is all about the delights and comforts in one’s abode, and Golden Living Room turns a bachelor pad into an aureate palace. Never is the listener threatened, there are no sudden propulsions, profusions or profanities, nor is this a sleeping pill that lulls you with the same old somnolent trick. The artist interweaves Vaporwave with Ambient, but the latter genre is the driving force. However, this turns out to be an advantage, as other Vaporwave listeners might be intrigued to succumb to the alluring power of that genre’s languor. It’s not the kind of Ambient music Napoleon listened to… this is aural aurum.


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 369: Golden Living Room – Welcome Home (2014). Originally published on Aug. 27, 2014 at