Rez x Oscob – Virtual High Rise™

Rez x Oscob - Virtual High Rise

Virtual High Rise™ is the second album in a trilogy produced by vaporwave duo Rez x Oscob. Packaged with an attractive, digitally-rendered photo of an elegant skyscraper, Virtual High Rise™ is a concept album about one’s visit to a futuristic enterprise as dreamed up by nineties commercial and technological culture.

This is a standard utopian-vaporwave release; there are mall muzak samples, slowed down vocals, spoken word introductions, tons of references to “computer entertainment,” and a glut of “virtual” imagery in lyric and theme. Sure, most of the tracks are pleasant and inoffensive, but not pleasant in an engaging way and not inoffensive in an expository sense. While one may argue that a critical aesthetic of vaporwave is to engage the listener with non-engaging music to comment on the superficiality of early computer culture, that’s not the impression one receives with Virtual High Rise™. The majority of songs are strikingly average, hitting all of the vaporwave marks that Macintosh Plus pioneered on FLORAL SHOPPE – not to mention the countless derivations that followed. Hearing a spoken word voice reference a “relatively unknown communication system called the internet” on “24-HOUR INTERNET SUPPORT” isn’t clever, it’s trite; and closer “View from the Top Floor” has a “you can do anything!” mantra that’s a sloppy attempt at pathos.

There are three points of interest. First, “SOARING SKY ADVENTURE 95’” – a fun ditty of a track with a saxophone riff and jingle that foregoes irony for genuine groove. Second, “Gilligan’s Promotion” – which sounds like a businessman’s level-up music. Third, “Vorex” – where Rez x Oscob throw a total curveball at the listener and opt for a Oneohtrix Point Never delayed-synthesizer effect thatis a welcome change-up.

Virtual High Rise™ is a mediocre record that follows utopian vaporwave on the straight and narrow. Music need not challenge the listener in order to provoke emotion, but in order to do so, one must be able to create some exceedingly engaging hooks. There are few tracks that are outright frustrating, but there are also few tracks that are outright captivating. It’s just average.

1. ►VHR WELCOME◄ – (0:37) – ★★★☆☆
2. Security Deposit – (2:27) – ★★★★☆
3. Smooth Snap Backs – (2:12) – ★★★☆☆
4. ☾ Midnight Cinemax ☽ – (3:33) – ★★★☆☆
5. Google Warriors – (2:13) – ★★★★☆
6. SOARING SKY ADVENTURE 95’ – (1:31) – ★★★★★
7. Brøderbund™ (feat. ArtFluids) – (2:25) – ★★★☆☆
8. Gilligan’s Promotion – (4:12) – ★★★★☆
9. Scavenging for Smilies in the Emojiplex – (2:34) – ★★☆☆☆
10. 24-HOUR INTERNET SUPPORT – (3:27) – ★★☆☆☆
11. Hotel Art – (3:45) – ★★★☆☆
12. Surface Reality – (2:15) – ★★☆☆☆
13. h e a v e n – (2:28) – ★★★★☆
14. そのチーズを取得します。1 – (1:21) – ★☆☆☆☆
15. Vorex – (4:36) – ★★★★☆
16. Views from the Top Floor – (5:17) – ★★☆☆☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆

1Japanese translation: “It gets its cheese.”

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