Donor Lens – Midnight Store (2020)

Donor Lens is a post-vaporwave/future-funk duo from the UK featuring the talents of Thom (Love in Dust, Wichita LimeWire) and Jay (Kid Neon, Timeshare 94). On July 31st, they released a proper follow-up to their amazing “Miracle Lounge มิราเคิล เลานจ์,” entitled “Midnight Store” through My Pet Flamingo.

“Midnight Store” has a really sleek look thanks to some wonderful art design by TropicalVirtual. It features an image of a package store that is situated smack dab in the middle of nowhere. The little details in the picture, such as the graffiti, the advertisement for “Viceroy” cigarettes, and even a nod to My Pet Flamingo itself, remind me of the type of thing you might see in a 1990s era first person shooter. I particularly like the trash can. The other thing that stands out in the cover art is the seemingly light barren “loft” sitting above the store. I can’t help but imagine someone sitting in the dark flipping through television channels out of depression, boredom, or because there’s simply nothing better to do.

The overall sound quality of “Midnight Store” is a cut above most Vaporwave that I’ve been exposed to. I would actually be willing to say that “Midnight Store” is as close as we’ll get to what proper Vaporwave would be like if it went into the mainstream. That said, I can’t see that happening, as Vaporwave supplants the “cult of personality” required to succeed in mainstream music’s current environment via weirdness, nightmare fuel, and feels.

Musically, I was really quite surprised to hear a song like “Midnight Store” lead off the album. When I spun “Midnight Store” for the first time, I couldn’t understand where the title track fit in with what the rest of the album is trying to accomplish. For all intents and purposes, “Midnight Store” is a proper song, sans a bridge. Despite it being an outlier on the album, I began to appreciate it more after picking up on its reprise in “Another Night Astray.” Like most artists who experiment in Vaporwave, this reprise did something weird to me. It gave me a mini-nostalgic moment for a new song I just heard. Weird right? Not really. I think this is by design. *slow clap*

Some of my favorite moments on “Midnight Store” come in the form of extended atmospheric jingles. Just having a song title like “Turn the Fridge On” puts certain images into my head. When tied with what Donor Lens is presenting here I didn’t expect the images to be so vivid and on point. This song in particular kept causing me to visualize someone working inside a cold freezer in the backroom of a small grocery store in southern California. This is a good example of what makes this album interesting. Donor Lens excel in creating an imaginary space that comfortably sits right in the liminal space between conscious and unconscious reality.

Other moments that stuck out to me was the enigmatic piano-leaden “One Stop Shop,” the early Apoptygma Berserk sounding “Konbini 24-7,” and the fluorescent light leaden “Aisles and Aisles.” My favorite track on the album undoubtedly goes to “Spirit Receiver (ft. DATAGIRL).” It’s a slow, enlightening, and dare I say, spiritual journey that truly highlights how music can spark authentic emotion within a listener. In general, I think that “Spirit Receiver” is one of the best tracks I’ve heard in all of 2020. While the rest of “Midnight Store” serves its purpose as a tremendous release on its own by combining future funk, chiptune, and Vaporwave together, this track overshadows and transcends all of the songs that come before it on the album. Seriously, check it out. “Spirit Receiver” is PEAK Donor Lens magic.

Album Color Profile: #D4E6F1

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Vaporwave looking for something a little less nightmarish and something much more focused.

Stand-out tracks: “Spirit Receiver (ft. DATAGIRL),” “Aisles and Aisles,” and “One Stop Shop,” and “Turn the Fridge On.”

You can find all things Donor Lens at: https://mypetflamingo.bandcamp.com/album/midnight-store

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