「サンセット Network ❾❶」x Replica Federation

Hired Gun





Call them mercenaries, assassins or condottieres (oh yes, that sounds posh, let's go with that!), hired guns are a dangerous and clandestine group, more at home in New York than Iowa, crossing the threshold between a detective’s observations and the big boys’ business, hiding in the darkness in order to strike in the right moment. Coincidentally or not, this is pretty much the basic description of a typical Vaporwave producer, right? Enter sunnyboy 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」 and his fellow wizard Replica Federation who both come up with their separate but nonetheless highly compatible points of view regarding the business of thugs and rapscallions. Called Hired Gun [ リーパーのピストル, the 17-track split album is released in June 2015 on Florida’s vaporcentral DMT Tapes and available to fetch at Bandcamp as usual. Oscillating between steamy nebulae, retrosternal cymbal convulsions, delicious chord progressions and prolonged vocals and stylistic oddities of the 80’s, Hired Gun delineates the little encounters the job brings with it. But there’s a twist, a gargantuan one in the given situation: Hired Gun might not be as exciting, violent and goosebumps-inducing as one might think. Even the situation of the above artwork is not necessarily reflected in each and every one of the 17 tracks. The presumed reason for this is carved out in the review, but first, let’s enter the split side of 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」, followed by Replica Federation’s endeavor.


The first eight tracks depict the realm of 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」, and at least the initial composition also features his fellow henchman OSCOB who appears on more Vaporwave albums than there are stars in Super Mario 64. Having been previously reviewed in a Vapor Vertebrae edition, the opener Awake is a saxophone-centric semi-dark arch of reverberated frequencies, showcasing the power of filters, knobs and modulators to let the listener feel drenched within a hypanthium. Ominous but not portentous, the opener sets the plot for the things to come. For You….aif presents the same elasticized saprotroph of soulful vocals and blurry steamroller hi-hats, but it is the momentary pauses, motionless segues and stops that allow the listener to contemplate about the dualism between staggering drums and silkened haze. From this point onwards, 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」 decides to rev up the ante and go all Japanese.


トライアル (trial) offers a gorgeously biomorphic suprematism whose insinuated courtroom drama can well be compared to Capcom’s Phoenix Wright franchise. Paraphyletic saxophones, granular funk guitars and seraphic synth spirals successfully fight off any grave notion. 大麻ラウンジ (hemp lounge) meanwhile four-twenties its way into a cowbell-fueled colchicine cocktail made of polyphonous vox, warm guitar layers and prolonged peritoneums of euphony, whereas 時間ヘイズ (hays time) proposes the same stylistic balance, but with a much more flangered Wurlitzer-driven megafauna, making this a diaphanous instrumental that is surprisingly clear and immediate. The adjacent 服を着た2キル (dressed 2 kill) breathes the laissez-faire attitude of a pulp novel, with the hired guns enjoying their slowed-down sax-underlined freedom on the, well, freeway, all the while 特殊type (special type) crystallizes the Rhodes luminosity via its molybdenized micrometry, gunshots and soulful toasts included. 雨の中で涙 (tears in the rain) puts an interim end to the split side of 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」 via the aid of simmering crimson synths, spherical flute melodies and the saxophone’s megacity-evoking loneliness.


The realm of Replica Federation shares the sentiment, but cautiously widens the stylistic gap just a little bit to create bustling sceneries that are similarly sun-kissed. Opener Volantes is a guitar-based bass-underlined classic drum lozenge offers plenty of room for angelic synths and exciting beat accentuations. Successor In My Sight is a vignette of less than two minutes which sees the vaulted echoes of the drums rattle in close proximity to mucous-viscid synth batteries, while Only A Job provides the orthonormal gamut in magenta/golden hues, providing various segues of sax helixes, caudal cristae and purposefully off-beat lap joints that showcase the actual suture of the sampled material, cheekily referring back to the archetypal picture of the Vaporwave producer who is only doing his job after all.


With Dust, Replica Federation considers the thickly wadded cotton atmosphere of 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」, at least temporarily so as this is yet another ever-changing track which later ventures into Dixieland-oriented Ska (!) lycopods, genres that vaporwavers don’t consider all too often. One Bullet At A Time is another strong macula, providing a gregarious cowbell ctenidium with laid-back guitar granulomas, piercing hi-hats and a decrease in speed as the song progresses, stumbling jitters and pauses included. Di Valore, on the other hand, is an oneiric Ambient oxidant made of processed chorales which boost the demotic – or is that demonic? – vibe further. Forest Of Concrete is a longform track of over six minutes whose congalicious polyphonic vocals are mercurial at first before Replica Federation takes away the speed in order to create an apocrine cytoplasm via microlensing, before the similarly long finale Wanting And Waiting presents a wonderfully warped vibraphone interferometry that is so utterly soothing and lilting that the job prospect of a hired gun doesn’t look so grim after all.


Hired Gun [ リーパーのピストル is a stringent and contiguous affair despite the artists not crossing paths, rather creating their own little islands that share – accidentally or not – so many characteristics that this is a positively streamlined epitome of Synth Pop-oriented Funk escapades viewed through Vaporwave glasses. And to make things even better, both artists do in fact collaborate in the true finale called Company-Men-[死のビジネス] (business of death, an echoey-whitewashed baroclinic flexing of insular songs and elements sewn together in order to form a stream of consciousness. What is encapsulated in this final track is at the same time the basic gist of the complete album: an audaciously soothing no-scare approach of a dangerous business. In fact, 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」 x  Replica Federation do the only right thing, and that is the depiction of normalcy which every job brings with it, no matter if you’re a nine-to-five woolly academic, a gardener for Jennifer Lopez or a window washer at the Burj Khalifa. As such, Hired Gun surprises – and survives – with the aid of the utmost mellowest 80’s synths you can get. Powerful chord progressions, plasticized hi-hats and vocal-accompanied textures of interest round off a sensorial journey that is still adventurous at the end of the day.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 097: 「サンセット N e t w o r k ❾❶」x  Replica Federation – Hired Gun (2015). Originally published on Jun. 20, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.