Neo-Madison 2105






懐かし2002津波 aka Draven Stedman from Onalaska, Wisconsin is an ambienteer whose whitewashed haze-filled homeostasis is the golden thread that runs through his recent productions and which culminates in his eleven-track album Neo-Madison 2105, released in June 2015 on DMT Tapes, available to fetch and stream at the label’s Bandcamp page. Situated in the sun-kissed hamlet of Port Richey, Florida, DMT Tapes is one of the top addresses of true Vaporwave albums, whatever that means to the respective listener. And here is the highly intriguing train of thought: how does Stedman’s droning photodissociation fare in view to the Future Funk flares and Casioware critters? Enchantingly well so, as the presented material shares many a sentiment with the V-genre, be it slowed down vocal-based lamentos, quirky perianths, Akira references or the smoke-centered omnipresence of life in the big city. All of these instances are poured into a streamlined lake of positrons, streamlined in the best sense of the term! Everything feels flat and at ground level on the one hand, and stupefyingly longitudinal and aeriform on the other, resulting in a barycenter where velocity and insouciance merge into indistinct shapeless rubicons. Here’s a meticulous look at the album’s principal norms, and how they are dissolved, dissected and dismantled by the artist in the given omnipresent Ambient/Drone emphasis.


The year is 2105, the Intro of 懐かし2002津波’s album is running, greeting the listener with the infamous jingle of a certain 90’s video game console that isn’t even processed or watered down. After the appendix of a cavernous/aqueous monk chant-resembling diffeomorphism, WXNM 84.9 FM launches the album properly, even though a lot of Vaporwave followers might beg to differ, as it is a beatless Ambient antrum supercharged with mesmerizing synth flumes, limewashed cloudlets and just the right amount of cautious pentatonicism so that the effort induces heterodyned polymers of the Far East, magnanimously injected into the annealed purple incandescence. The adjacent ’02 Cruising again negates its tachycardia-inducing title as Stedman creates a thermal vapor hued in saffron. Maybe made of a processed guitar that is slowed down ad infinitum as to resemble the mildly undulating heat wave of the desert, this is yet another blurry bokeh that comes with infinitesimally pulsatile surfactants.


Pepsi Blue meanwhile is a Mallsoft mélange of rotoscoping – faintly ukulele-esque – melodies deriving from paradise, but the actual twist is even better, one that is repeated in subsequent songs as well: 懐かし2002津波 manages to create a blurry telomere that is still echoey! But where do the reverberations come from if this Drone track is so utterly dense and rectilinear? That’s for the artist to know and the listener to find out. Adjacent to this track is Eva Unit 01 which takes the faraway sunlit euphony of a bucolic J-Pop song and pours it into the photoevaporating micrometry of a stokehold phragmoplast. This is smoke that can be heard!


The title-lending epicenter Neo-Madison 2105 sees Draven Stedman collaborate with Hong Kong Express, and that’s not their only connection. Whereas the DREAM_100 compilation released on HKE’s Dream Catalogue label features a track by 懐かし2002津波 that is called Neo-Madison 2102, here both artists unite in order to skip three years forward, eventually reaching the year 2105 if math doesn’t fail me. After the histrionic synth protuberance at the beginning, Neo-Madison 2105 reciprocates between a colchicine-covered parallax bokeh of soothing euphony and heavy reverberators whose scything plasticity evoke the technocratic cristae of a megacity: ghostly superconductors, molybdenized service announcements and rhombohedral bursts make this an oneiric thiazide where nothing seems real and everything is way too benignant, as if this were a sanctuary in lieu of a soul-crushing moloch.


Vice City 2002, on the contrary, is awash with yttrium lights, an elasticized sporophyte of over six minutes whose ever-hieratic cytoplasm flows and floats, paying tribute to longitudinal gaseous arabesques and apocrine rivulets simultaneously. The thermal immersion factor is similarly huge in the following Formless X Void which addresses another superimposition of shape vs. nullspace. Despite the lower frequency range, the proposed photometry is gregarious, its benignant pectin-coated isospin chemotaxis the principal modus operandi. Afterwards, the centerpiece Eva Unit 00 is nigh. It runs for over eight minutes, and running wouldn’t be wrong in the given context, as it is the only beat-accentuated circumambience of the whole album where the softly simmering 4/4 asceticism is clearly audible. Deriving from a yearning Synth Pop song, the loop is expertly stitched together, its cusps and apexes cleverly hit in the amniotic redshift. Silent Drive Through Neo-Madison offers one last heating loop recirculation-based drone diorama of volatile oxidants, angular sermons and lilting nematodes before the Outro presents the loop of a haunting melody as delivered by a devoted paraphyletic monk… or R’n’B singer. Wouldn’t they coalesce anyway in the future that is depicted here?


Neo-Madison 2105 doesn’t address the lees of society, there’s no dregs, no offscum to fear. The future is surprisingly bright, but this salubrious flow comes with a price: the luminosity isn’t diffractive, let alone scattered. Instead, it hits cytoplasmic jelly, there’s neither bones nor ribcages, no cervical, caudal, clavicular heirloom to behold. 懐かし2002津波’s album is first and foremost Ambient, and then after a long mile, Vaporwave comes along in the shapeless shape of coruscating adjuvants, short afterglows, demotic magnetotails and of course the slowed-down state of the Pop-oriented source material. Neo-Madison 2105 is a long pipe dream, with its polysemous term pipe all the more so linking back to the machinability of the grafted vesicles and coils. The bewilderment about the existence of high-rise profusions, emerald echoes and rhizomatic reverberations in these perfectly plateaued cellular tissues is the visceral achievement of 懐かし2002津波. On higher volume levels, the room is filled with superconductivity and palinopsia, and the obliquity of whether the album really is about a utopian society or its fluvio-lacustrine vestiges only supersedes the state of one’s own existence within the endogenic boundaries of this urban tropopause.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 092: 懐かし2002津波 – Neo-Madison 2105 (2015). Originally published on Jun. 8, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.