Illumina EP






Train Today, Vape Tomorrow 

Athens, Georgia-based Vaperror, properly stylized as VAPERROR, has said time and again that even the so-called bedroom producer — a potentially derogatory term in Nashville and beyond, but many an artist‘s choice of life with universal appeal otherwise — has to train and know their apps, stems and filters even during mid-term exams. Especially so in Vaporwave circles, where one can accomplish scintillating things with comparatively less effort than, say, a debonair pianist. Here, in the V-world, racing the tide time and again by offering both quality emeralds and having a distinct, recurrent set of tonalities and approaches, takes much more work than your uncle from Idaho possibly imagines. You have to practise in order to improve. Yep, even during this millennium. It so happens that the four-track Illumina EP, released in July 2017 on Vaperror's own PLUS100 Records on 30 picture disks and 50 tapes (in green and pinkkkk!) and made available for streaming on the usual big dollar conglomerates in September of the same year, showcases Vaperror‘s knowledge yet another time.


Rectangular salmon saved the day. Photograph by Vaperror.


Why Quality Qualifies And Reduction Reigns

A runtime of less than 10 minutes makes the EP brutally short, almost laughably so, because the material is so diaphanous, upbeat and well-crafted. The chances, of course, lie in the distillation process taking place on the listener‘s side: a paradisiac amalgamation this short of a duration carves out the architecture on the melodic, textural and beat-related level. You don‘t need to forcefully press the Illumina EP in your workout schedule, let alone your workday. There‘s always time to throw it into a playlist in a half-assed manner only to be swept away by its turquoise/amethystine duality and opalescent shimmer seconds later. That‘s why both short Vaporwave works and monolithic hour-long dystopias are equally welcome at AmbientExotica. In fact, I rate short but sweet works among my favourite pastimes, for example ESPRIT 空想‘s Summer Night EP (2013) Cyberlust‘s online4_ever (2014), and some SPORTSGIRLスポーツ少女⍟‘s Sports EP (2017). So let‘s see what Vaperror has in store for us.


Track 1: Illumina 

This is not just a mere opener, nor is it the accidental title track of this EP, but rather the nexus to Vaperror‘s aural helix, serving as both the nucleic-inherent style and the very subatomic zone the artist is known for. Illumina therefore comprises compromises: in lieu of playfully caustic acid streams, a mesozoic bubblebath is created instead. Softly simmering synth pads connect to the gently pulsating four-to-the-floor beat, all the while an opalescent corkscrew melody wobbles through the xenon-fueled ether. With a runtime of just two minutes, Illumina aurally illustrates in Vaperror‘s tradition of crafting sublime wonderworlds that do not overstay their welcome but severely enchant due to their balanced structure and bewitching synthesizers. Dancing with the gluons.


Track 2: Tiny Acid

Phwoark — flawrg — spilling right ahead. In contrast to Tiny Acid, the whole EP is rather picturesque, even lime-washed. Despite its short duration of a mere 30+ seconds, this track is quite a bit important thanks to its Teutonic appearance. The same ingredients remain valid in this transformation which turns from silkened sinews to the titular Tartarean acidic solution. Square lead droplets, bouncing 303‘s, echoey apparitions and less than willful vanilla shakers inculcate a venomous cesspool in midtempo style. With Vaperror‘s acid thunderstorm Error On The Dancefloor off Acid Arcadia (2016) still fresh on our minds — a few synapses are still functioning as expected, guess he hammered that lesson home — it turns out that Tiny Acid is more laissez-faire, less aggressive, almost goodnatured, but also more phlegmatic and narrowminded, exchanging flashing fluorescence for faded flimflam. Would it have been featured on Acid Arcadia, the abrasive Tiny Acid were one important pillar. Here in the context of the Illumina EP, however, it is but a benevolent atavism.


Track 3: Luna

The milquetoast Luna presents itself as a glorious continuation of the title track, emphasizing all the fluorescent excimers while annihilating the camphor. Glittering emeralds are sparkling among a soothing 4/4 beat, cyan square lead pads gently push through the wadded fogbanks and seasides. Despite its title, the lightsource in Luna isn‘t pale or tawny to my ears, not even romanticized. Instead, we bask in nutritious daylight, making the third track an important portion of the EP‘s auroral densitometry. So short and ever-sweet, almost crossing the two minute mark, Luna is a great addition. It is, again, too short, and therefore in good company.


Track 4: Don‘t Fuck Up My Vibe (Extended Mix)

The final track then is — nomen est omen — the longest of the bunch, having made its first outing on Vaperror’s SoundCloud palace in June 2017. This makes Don’t Fuck Up My Vibe quite the chimera: a purposefully extended track in a sound-bite setting. It pushes many extrinsic textures and tonalities right into the forefront due to its runtime alone, without, however, the slightest insinuation of feeling de trop. Basically a Hermosa Beach House track at its core, the inclusion offers a striking shift due to the sun-dappled appearance. In short: the track is much more immediate. It is dry in a good way, a surfactant like silica gel, ostensibly jumping at you, clear and precise. The four-to-six-note square squamata squander squawlessly, all the while the occasional cowbell, samba whistle and mid-metallicity of the corrugated iron pads altogether desiccate the remaining benthic flavor like a sponge. Imagine throwing Don‘t Fuck Up My Vibe into Vaperror‘s mighty Mana Pool (2014), and you can still have a stellar bubblebath. As a closer for the Illumina EP, though, it suggests turning on the garden hose to refill the technicolor pond. Or press repeat. 



Illumina EP offers viscoelasticity aplenty, always oscillating between moist-mucous shores and honest-to-goodness waves of exhilaration. While I adore both the long-winded Vaporwave concept album and the short appetizer alike, for there is always the right sitution for anything that‘s few and far between, Vaperror‘s EP is belligerently short, not even overstaying its welcome in the slightest. The runtime of the four tracks make this look like a mere finger exercise, not, however, the quality of the tunes itself. If you are a Vaperror fan, there is no need to even think about skipping this little mica of a gem: it is awash with salubrious gleams, ablaze with panchromatic textures and uplifting themes. Illumina EP is playfully mysterious, always allowing room for good-natured fun in the sun, its similarly cheeky acid underground notwithstanding.


Further listening and reading:


Vaporwave Review 165: Vaperror – Illumina EP (2017). Originally published on Oct. 20, 2017 at