Polychromatic Compiler






★ The Premise: Compiled To Be Loved ★

Polychromatic Compiler is the third major album by Athens, Georgia-based Vaperror and the second outing to be released on Earth’s biggest Vaporwave central, HKE’s Dream Catalogue label. Released in July 2015 on 200 banana-colored tapes and available to stream and purchase at Bandcamp as always, Polychromatic Compiler encloses 19 tracks, ditties, shanties, vignettes and ayres of multiple genres, among them Ambient, Jazz, Hip-Hop and a certain epithelium called Juke. More about them all during later points of the review. For now, it is important to note the following: this is a multi-genre album after all, I won’t deny Vaperror that, but the style-spanning centrifugal centriole creates an audacious flow, with every constituent, synth, stem and patch feeling complete, scintillating, awash with nutritious neon light. And since the tape is already yellow, the press should be yellow as well, so here's some gossip: Vaperror originally hails from Detroit, and you hear it within every note. The concentrated dreaminess of Detroit’s electronic music is often mistaken for utter melancholy and a petrifying yearning… that’s why the producer ameliorates these chords with glistening and saltatory melodies of utter friendliness and understanding, adding diaphanous undercurrents and killing off any compunction.


Before I dive deeper into the album, let me tell you about my aim and approach of this holistic review: I have scored a preview link to Polychromatic Compiler from HKE and were able to stream the living daylights out of Bandcamp’s servers. As soon as the tape and download became officially available, I then absorbed the lossless nucleus of the album. Other than that, I received no internal hint, no information about the used software or hardware – Oberheim, post-Vestax or whatever – and zero guidelines at all. I consider myself a huge Vaperror fan, so these press blurbs aren’t needed in this here case, although they would have helped, obviously. But due to the short timespan of less than 48 hours, there are again a few limits which I won’t hide.


I have listened to the whole album six or seven times and feel able to denote and delineate a few qualities, delightful oddities and sylphlike elements. But this is still no entire in-depth review; this is for the Vaperror connoisseur who knows a bit about the artist’s history and specific trademark timbre. Therefore, I didn’t review all of the 19 tracks, but rather approached the writeup from the angle of covering stylistic patterns both intrinsic and exogenous, fathoming surprising – to me – movements and occasionally comparing them with previous albums and singles (as I did in my review of Vaperror's self-released 2014 stomper System Delight). Don’t worry, it’s no academic paper, though Vaporwave will make the jump to lots of academic discourses sooner rather than later. If you are a fan of Vaporwave, please be my guest. And if you’re a fan of Vaperror, let me tell you that we certainly share the same level of excitement about this release. So here’s a closer look.


One of 200 yellow C50 tapes as photographed by HKE. Juke in a box.


★ The Blindspot: Juke ★

It so happens that Vaporwave is now considered both a movement and a genre, with many a substyle to be added, for better or worse. Seapunk, Mallsoft, Casi(n)oware, you name it. Juke hasn’t been among them. But it seems that this alkaliphilic entity is close to Vaperror’s heart, what with the related hashtags appearing on his SoundCloud page… and its inclusion on Polychromatic Compiler. Often cheekily mistaken for Baile Funk, the current state of Juke can best be pinpointed by listening to the third track CD64, followed by the tenth offering CD64 [Juke Rework]. One should shy away from "understanding" a whole style by listening to one or two gems only, but they’re great starting points regardless in order to distill the intrinsic innards of the album.


While the original physiognomy of CD64 sports MIDIlicious brass ribcages, electric bass shapes and gorgeously pitch-shifted chord progressions of molybdenized hydromagnesite synths in order to guide the listener into a cavernous multiplex of adiabatic 80’s lozenges, the Juke Rework of this track is a heavily staccatofied incarnation of apocryphal cowbell-handclap fusillades, aqueous droplets and a general histrionic complexion of frantic sporophytes, fir-green chloroderivatives and laser interferometry. This is now 90’s territory, spawning cathodic rainbows, cathartic cataracts, cataclysmic helictites. In hindsight, it turns out that exogenic tracks such as the SoundCloud upload Boosted and Perfect Circuit [Night Drive] (off System Delight) have been juicy Juke juggernauts all along.


Granted: just because a track runs on all cylinders and bursts at the seams with beat-infested topiaries and paraquat pumps doesn’t make it a Juke track at all costs. But the biomorphic rhizomes of this style become entangled with lots of Polychromatic Compiler’s cornerstones, be it the chopped tropical thiazide of mercilessly uplifting weightlessness called Fyup whose refreshing vincristine-alloyed synth crystals scythe through a bongo-accentuated megafauna of anthocyanin-colored calcaneal channels, or the much tamer Jungle-oriented Golf with its erinaceous Green Hill Zone suprematism, rhythm-shifting phytotelemata and heavily pulsating segue, the latter of which screams Juke in an otherwise liltingly stratiform plateau. This style, as it turns out, is all around, amidst and within Polychromatic Compiler, preventing Juke from becoming the ultimate force while at the same time allowing its tachycardia-inducing rapscallion outfit to amend and elevate approximately 60% of the album.



★ Pyroxenite Pulses ★

Vaperror’s albums and singles have always been a gregarious breeding ground for various short fuses and energetic elements. Call them pulses, jitters, blebs, vesicles, cave pearls (yes, let's call ‘em cave pearls alright!), what these glittering glints add to even the most soothing Hip-Hop-underpinned beat aureole cannot be underestimated. These little wisps are few and far between the 19 tracks, even in the shortest vignettes and interim states. Granted, on a taxonomic level, these pulses are on the lower levels (but above the texture of a sound), serving as the means for the style to alter the perception. Drum’n’Bass/Jungle, Rave and yes, especially Juke couldn’t exist without these ultramafic magnetotails.


So where to start and end this section? Polychromatic Compiler is chock-full with cauldron bubbles, pill giblets and tholin entrails which can again be heard on the majority of the tracks. The artist remains fond of his self-chosen cathexis after all. Whether it is the yttrium-plagued thermal immersion circulator Cleanser with its aliphatic stop-and-go gridlock polarimetry, the possible Mana Pool spin-off named Flows with its fluvio-lacustrine synths that are agglutinated to polyrhythmic-orthorhombic muons and clicks, or the vitreous high-rise perapsis New Moves where there are admittedly no clicketyclick devices per se, but a similarly pulsatile endorsement, this time in the form of good-old fashioned cymbals and hi-hats complete with attached square lead syringa syrinxes.



★ An Adaxial Ambient Abiogenesis ★

The Ambient factor is deeply engrained into Vaperror’s style. This sentence serves both as an objective description and a highly subjective warning to not underestimate the puissance of Ambient. This needn’t be your grandfather’s New Age journeys of the early 70’s, no, Ambient can sound beautifully upbeat and exciting when ethereal textures are applied and the right surroundings are erected. Naturally, our boy from Athens, Georgia has to say a thing or two about this, and he injects these salubrious seeds into his music ad infinitum, and right from the start: the artist’s Vaportrap debut and nascent incipience Sega Dreamland, for instance, is celebrated for its Nintendo (!) samples and medulla-emptying bassline, but I for one fully embrace the Detroit-y cloak-and-dagger smokescreen haze that wafts and flickers around the umbrageous barycenter. Ever since, Vaperror hasn’t stopped to embrace the lure of legato lands.


Polychromatic Compiler has a lot to offer in terms of periglacial chills and proselytizing photoevaporations, making these Ambient-focused synth washes one of the most important parts of a track; they are hence being adaxial and face toward the track’s upper surface, protruding even the greatest fusillade of isothermal leptons. Those who say that beats don’t belong to an Ambient track, fear not and rejoice: Vaperror has you covered. The last fifth of the album sees the artist wind down the orthogonal steelification in favor of longitudinal waterfalls and nomological perianths. The simplemindedly titled 0 and 1 are a lot less frugal, with the former track luring with aquatic trade winds and tramontane ventiducts, and the latter enchanting with swirling fog banks of distant memorabilia, granular analog AM frequency heterodynes and estuaries of pure verglas. Reciprocating between Trinidadian suntrap chimes and portentously glacial halides, 1 is one heck of an Ambient antrum, clocking in at almost five minutes. But there’s even more, namely the longwinded finale Static Distance which comprises of multitudinous strata and sinews. This is a polyfoil, percolating Dream Drone diorama, comprising of cautious pitch shifts, Doppler effects and superficial lariats that gyre around a chromogenic hexangular quilting. A pluvial plasticizing hydrazine as the endpoint: tears of joy.



★ Vaporwave Suprematism ★

It’s been a strange undertaking for the reviewer to open up AmbientExotica for Vaporwave by adding a third distinct – and likely final – genre section. Having reviewed the V-genre since 2012, it has always been added to the Ambient Review Archive before finally branching out. Why this story, pops? Because the answer is given in the chapter heading: Vaporwave enshrines, encapsulates, engrains, encompasses, en-anythings every style and even fully-grown genre there is. Vaperror hasn’t stated that Polychromatic Compiler is a multigenre album for nothing. But even though Vaporwave comes along, spreading like a forest fire, typhoon or hurricane and offering helluvalot excitement when the listener is in the epicenter of it all, there are certain set of microgenres among the Vitamin V community, and our coxswain makes sure to have them prominently featured on his album as well.


Mallsoft fans have already had a blast with Vaperror’s dreamy palinopsia Item Shop on Dream Catalogue’s DREAM_100 compilation, and ya boi vape doesn’t intend to stop there and offers like-minded mica, one of them being Promicro, a sub-two-minute umbrageous marble-walled proteostasis of nebulous hi-hats, quasi-ligneous 16-bit melodies and a photometry that boosts the sunset-colored stroll through a temple of consumerism. Likewise, Ultrafunk Fantasy shares many a sentiment but replaces the oneiric obliquity with a joyously immediate clavichord granuloma, Funk guitars and an amethystine glow ovrall. obliquity. Aquarium, a run-and-gun tryst, is a smoking-fast tunnel vision of cerulean-viridian gamut, serving as a peritoneum for mucous-seraphic legato veils and aqua blasts, all the while Liquid Driver rightfully succumbs to panchromatic-caproic video game BGM aesthetics, what with its eclectic drum coating and magnanimously insouciant melodies.



★ The Aftermath: Multigenre Diffeomorphism ★

Whatever Vaperror dishes up: it’s Vaporwave at the end of the day. And it’s Vaporwave in its infancy stage already, when it isn’t entirely clear as of yet how a specific song turns out, which ancillary routes and spurious oscillations it follows through. But one thing is for sure, despite Vaperror stressing that this is a multigenre album: Polychromatic Compiler is eloquently congruous and eruditely coherent. Here we have a producer at his peak, which is a portentous thing to say, for it implies that forthcoming productions lack the inherent quality. But this is only one possible reading of this saying. Another, much more positive interpretation consists of the almost ludicrously stylistic confidence Vaperror packs into a song, for every peak is always a current one, ready to be climbed and left behind after a bit of time. Each aural vision thus becomes autochthonous, 100% Vaporwave and always jovial, benignant, amicable. Cloak-and-dagger enigmas aren’t the primary domain, and neither should they, for even in the more mystical Ambient corkers, there are cajoling counterpoints to be found. If you prefer your Vaporwave to be friendly, crystalline, high-chroma-styled, multinucleate and as benthic or vanillarific as can be, Polychromatic Compiler is a superior choice and will severely enchant you with its polished chords, purified rhythms, pristine convulsion, whereaver you are, whatever you do, whether it is working out, jotting down a masterplan or enjoying the sylvan woods near the rural cornfields of an adjacent megacity: Vaperror's albums ennoble every scenery and undertaking. "Don't ever give up, my son!"


Further listening and reading: 


Vaporwave Review 112: Vaperror – Polychromatic Compiler (2015). Originally published on Jul. 24, 2015 at