「fluence」 – elemental

fluence - elemental

After dropping several tracks on streaming services,「fluence」released the downtempo vaportrap album elemental on the Dream Catalogue label – one of the foremost in professional vaporwave marketing and production. Sporting one of the prettiest album covers in the whole genre, elemental forewent the silliness of Blank Banshee for a decidedly somber vibe in common with 音 LIGHT システム. elemental has a chillwave vibe in its distinctly relaxed hip-hop beats that are more conducive to taking up a spliff than dancing in a club (ironically or otherwise). Tracks are short, with none but finale “nightfall” stretching past the three-minute mark. 「fluence」makes copious use of Japanese flute, birdsong, and keyboard-led ambiance rather than utilize the samplism of peers.1 There are small glitches in several songs that add a bit of flavor, such as the speed-up/slow-down on “hydration.”

elemental has one fatal flaw: the beats are mixed way too loudly. While enjoyable in small doses, full listens of elemental are grating, simply because the beats sharply contrast with whatever else is going on. 「fluence」relies much too heavily on breath samples as beats, which results in a decidedly one-note listening experience. The artists also tries too hard to incorporate pop trap/dubstep nods that have nothing to do with the song; for example, there’s a “drop that shit” line on “the river” that totally ruins the flow of the otherwise decent track. This is chillwave vaportrap, not a dubstep jam. elemental is a decent debut, but very unsure of what kind of album it wants to be – and without the varied experiments that would make such confusion stimulating.

1. elemental – (2:23) – ★★★★☆
2. adaptation – (2:39) – ★★★★★
3. hydration – (2:29) – ★★★★☆
4. the river – (2:21) – ★★★☆☆
5. secluded – (2:41) – ★★★☆☆
6. the villa – (2:20) – ★★★★★
7. elixir – (2:32) – ★★★☆☆
8. testarossa dreams – (1:37) – ★★☆☆☆
9. encounter – (2:01) – ★★★☆☆
10. hidden – (1:29) – ★★☆☆☆
11. nightfall – (3:14) – ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆

1… since the vast majority of vaporwave artists are anonymous – itself a commentary on the Internet and digital age – it’s hard to pin down just who the producer is for certain, much less the gender.

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