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

TUPPERWAVE is an eclectic Vaporwave producer from Brisbane, Australia. They’ve been producing music under this moniker since January of 2017. Their latest album, entitled “Marina” was released on February 25th 2020.

The cover artwork for “Marina” is colorful and vibrant. In the lower left hand corner is a roof-pool overlooking a lush beach. Behind the beach is a city. This seriously looks like it would be a great place to unwind, relax, and pop open a bottle of wine. The sun in the sky appears to be getting ready to set transitioning from what appears to be a hot, oppressive day into a gorgeous summer night.

Admittedly, I am not very well-versed in the intricacies of Vaporwave. I’m well-aware of some of the bigger names in the scene, and while I could’ve elected to go down the rabbit hole that starts with “Floral Shoppe” and all of it’s bizarre iterations, there’s something that attracted me to TUPPERWAVE’s work—it felt much more accessible as a newbie to the Vaporwave scene. When I pressed play on “Marina” for the first time, I became instantly relaxed and happy.

The foundation of “Marina’s” production lies in a careful selection of blending a variety of samples into a salient musical structure. Transforming already existing music into something new without it sounding like an obnoxious loop takes real talent—and TUPPERWAVE has that in spades. Tech-wise, “Waterfront” was the most impressive sounding track as it not only accurately captures the atmosphere of standing in a random mall in the midwest during the 80s, it really sounds like you’re listening to the music on the same tinny speakers those places had back then. Almost all of the music on “Marina” takes a similar form ranging from sounds you might hear in a late 70s television commercial, or the type of tune you might’ve heard while on hold over the telephone.

“Esplanade” was my favorite track from the album. From what I can tell, it takes a mid-80s City Pop female vocal track and downsamples it into an androgynous vocal range. While stuff like this is common to Vaporwave, by taking something beautiful and turning it into pseudo-nightmare fuel, the way TUPPERWAVE arranges it into a slow-paced waltz complete with a romantic brass section is absolutely wonderful.

“Marina” is one of those albums that I’m not afraid to just turn on anywhere I’m at, especially if I need some thing to calm my nerves after a crappy day. It also happens to be one of my favorite albums to play in the kitchen while I’m washing dishes, cooking, or staring down one of my cats. Overall, this has become one of my favorite goto albums this year, and I highly recommend it to both those who enjoy Vaporwave and to those who aren’t as familiar.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of all things Vaporwave, and those who aren’t as familiar but would like an accessible album to try.

Stand-Out tracks: “Esplanade,” (THE HORNS OH MY SWEET GODDESS THE HORNS), “Waterfront,” “Blue Sky,” “Kirra Sunset.”

Album Color Profile: #6633FF

You can find all things TUPPERWAVE at https://thevaporroom.bandcamp.com/

Mike Templar is an electronic music producer who’s traveled all the way from Sirius, that’s 8.611 light years, in order to share the gift of funky spacewave with all of us down here on Earth. His latest album “TROM” aka “The Resolution of Mind” came out on June 20th via Bandcamp.

“TROM” is a high concept, multimedia album that has to do with one man’s journey against the a corrupt system holding humanity down. Apparently, the next three-hundred years are going to be a complete shit show for us. Thanks drug resistant viral infections! Thanks power hungry corporations and politicians! Hey thanks, big pharma!

All joking aside, the story behind “TROM” may seem overly serious, but there’s a real sense of playfulness to the overarching theme of this album. This is precisely what makes “TROM” so different. This isn’t an edgy “Game of Thrones” gore-porn style look at an unfortunate future. There’s a real sense of thoughtful levity here.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to Mike personally over the course of a few hours. We talked about “TROM,” our lives, and what it means to live in such interesting times. After talking to Mike I got the sense that this is a man who is truly connected with something bigger than himself. He’s honest, straightforward, and understands that the thing that’s helped him keep perspective through all the ugliness is staying connected to his higher self through artistic expression. In so many words, “TROM” is the result of a man putting a vulnerable part of himself publicly on display for the sake of his art.

I mean, Mike Templar wrote an entire goddamn novel (roughly 120 pages) that fully fleshes out each song on “TROM.” Most artists don’t even bother to include lyrics or liner notes with their album releases. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and read the book in its entirety, I can say that without a doubt, it’s full of high-minded ideas. Ideas that investigate the root causes behind a lot of disturbing truths that eerily mirror our own reality.

“TROM” consists eighteen tracks, some of which are remixes, spanning roughly eighty minutes. From a value stand-point this album offers a lot of content. Musically, “TROM” is almost entirely instrumental with the exception of “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)” and a few sample drops sporadically spread throughout the album. Even though this album deals with some heavy themes, I don’t think the sound of this is dark. In fact, “TROM” has a certain bounciness to it, which makes the album a lot more playful than almost all of the other albums I’ve listened to this year. That said, it’s not so playful that it’s whimsical. There’s a lot of genre blending here. “Stopover on Earth” is a good example of this. My favorite track on the album is definitely “Inner Enemy.” It’s very visual and just sounds all around pleasing to the ear. I found myself humming it to myself a lot this week. “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)” is a compelling vocal performance. It’s not over-polished with an overwhelming amount of pitch correction or processing. Millennium Falck did a great job on it. It is totally reminiscent of 1970s variety show music, which, needless to say, is wildly different than what I was expecting. This may sound weird, but I quite dig it. You should check it out.

Overall, “TROM” is an accessible album. It’s extremely chill considering the subject matter. I think this would be great music to listen to if you’re a little unorthodox and need a some background juice for an inspiring meditation session. At times, it wades into mallwave territory—but I don’t think that this is a bad thing. This is definitely a thinking man’s album made by a man who likes to think.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Free-thinkers, people who want to experience spacewave with a positive vibe.

Stand-out tracks: “Inner Enemy,” “Speculum,” “Stopover on Earth,” “Slingshot Singularity Spy,” “Emergency (feat. Millennium Falck)”.

Album Color Profile: #2196F3

You can find all things Mike Templar at https://autumo.bandcamp.com/