The times have changed: if a Synth Pop artist of the 80’s would’ve given their shiny new album a title such as Museum, chances are that all the galactosamine-fueled glitters in the world turned tawny. What a boring affair! In the case of everyone’s favorite cesspool Vaporwave, however, things are much different. The shape of shopping malls, the reverberated sound waves coming out of cheap speakers embedded within marble ceilings is exciting, and consumerism always close at hand. But remember: we’re not talking about malls but museums, and it is this peritoneum where the V-genre finds its greatest traction via the many morphogenetic busts, calcareous cotyledons and, er, effin’ effigies. Mallsoft manager and Future Funk fortifier Shima33 carves out this very epicenter in Dream Catalogue’s 101th release called – who would have thought it – Museum, or as I like to call it: Museum 101. Available to order in tape form and stream at Bandcamp as ususal, Shima33’s Ambient (!) work serves as a guide through dreamy doldrums, coruscating carvings, hatched hallways, raucous rhizomes. The bust, as we all know, is famously featured on the very first Vaporwave album ever, you know, the one that should not be named, so the museum is fittingly enough the beginning, the prelude, the anacrusis, but also the the endgame, the nullspace, the apotheosis, and Shima33 makes sure to transform this polyvalent purity into an occasionally recondite world of suicidal senescence, pondering trains of thoughts… and luckily enough a portentously nihilistic nascency, the latter of which serves thankfully enough as the primary majestic feeling of Shima33’s building. I know what I have to do: absorbing the chirality of omniescence and revelation.


The bust is amiss, for Shima33 needs no icons. Photographed by Dream Catalogue owner HKE.


The tour launches with Expression A: The Inevitable Release, Op. 17 and sees Shima build gaseously pitch-shifted cloud spheres adjacent to a bustling field recording that soon fades away in order to let the kineticism of the Detroit-y ecomorphs conflate with crystalline cyberbirds and the most cautious of all laid-back beats. The micrometry prepares for the things to come, as this opener already inherits all the depth and profundity of the following pieces, but here the deep muons roam within the shape of a vincristine syncytium, itself floating through the surreal ether. Expression B: Mammon ( T ) And The Falsehood; Re-Existence only consequentially leads to the docile, heavily reverberated lectures of an art guide, with Shima33’s synths gliding into a wondrously warped post-Hawaiiana setting with sirenesque steel guitar-like chord progressions, a sun-dappled orography and glistening yttrium tetrahedrons. And the trip of 12 minutes only gets more vivacious: from chiefly British tape piracy admonitions over mildly echoey sax-centric muzak lozenges to Japanese verbiages, you cannot possibly visit such a variety of locations in this timeframe, but Shima33 obeys; he even adds an appendix called Expression 2B: Bronsan – A Pure Thought, a diaphanous circumambience of holarctic sarcopenia in tandem with a hieratic heartbeat.


The train of thought gets more complex with Expression C: …But, With One Hand: A Gesture Called “Fear-Not” (R2?), although the attached soundscape itself remains open to scrutiny, shuttling between the fragilely industrial midtempo Mallsoft mica akin to Silent Hill 3, vermillion synth strings and a semi-melancholic viscidity. If it weren’t for the simmering beat, the chords in minor would be crestfallen. In the presented form, however, there’s nothing inimical about this thoughtful surfactant. It is made clear where the journey is going with the most poignant and clear-cut track, aptly named Expression D: Tears, though it is tears of joy, I presume, as the sustained attack of a repeatedly beaten gamelan gong oozes into a pyrethrin garden: birds, aeriform synths and a lachrymose violin melt into a sensorial sanctuary, the latter of which sneaks into the scene but is actually in the epicenter of the following track…


… and this one leads from the singulary experience to the comprehensive whole: Expression E: The Inevitable Heat-Death of The Universe, In C Minor sees recondite wind gusts and fluid-processed synth flumes gyre around the haunting thermal immersion of said violin in a pure Ambient antrum whose anthocyanin is augmented at the end when the violin vanishes into a salubrious light. The death of the universe isn’t that imminent though, as the penultimate exhibit Expression F: Awaken Pure; Child. (Flower Duet) showcases a hypanthium of sporophytes and inorganic diamantine fractals. The bouquet of the arrangement’s floralcy sees the return of the translucent gong and injects it into a rotenone-alloyed cytoplasm whose soft dissonance is augmented by the multiple strata of legato veils. Here the mood cannot be pinpointed anymore, as Shima33 ventures into the tonality of clandestine Space Ambient. Magnanimously enough, the endpoint Expression 2F: Weightless Upon Midnight positions itself as the final piece of coruscating consolation, with effulgent fibroblasts, lilting scintillae and gravitational microlensing saccharifying the ergosphere known as mind.


Dream Catalogue has issued many concept albums, held together by their front artwork and track titles, only to then purposefully branch out into a kaleidoscope of themes, all of which harken back to the crimson sunsets, aqueous aureoles, chlorophyll-accreting jungles or neutraceutical telomeres that the respective illustration depicts. In the very case of Shima33’s Museum, it turns out that the white quasi-nothingness of the artwork is both a false trail and coup de main at the same time. There is nothing particularly white about Museum, for it is supercharged with rotoscoping redshifts, ogival estuaries and incidental polymers, but I can’t help myself: vitalism – not decay – is embroidered all over the tape. A mélange of positive notions is in the air, all darker clouds notwithstanding, successfully fighting off the periglacial planetesimals and opaque obliquities. No histrionic synth convulsion, not even a violent flaring occurs in this wondrous museum, everything is tastefully streamlined and – from an elemental viewpoint – cross-linked and interdependent. The reappearance of the aforementioned gong is naturally the easiest example to spot, but even the long flow becomes part of the coin’s same side; there are compositions on this release which present the next set of textures for a whopping two minutes before the next track is actually set to begin. Renewal through belief, but with the same constituents pieced together anew: you won’t distill this chromogenic notion from the front artwork, as Shima33’s zoetropic Museum outgrows the two-dimensionality through supra-plasticity.


Further listening and reading: 


Vaporwave Review 099: Shima33 – Museum (2015). Originally published on Jun. 25, 2015 at