空YAMAHA (aka Sky Yamaha) is a producer from the desert planet Arizona. She has been producing under this moniker since February of 2017. Since then Sky has released two short EPs and two full-lengths. Her latest is entitled “The Mirage is a Portal.” It was released on October 9th, 2020.

I became aware of Sky via the Synthfam Twitterverse after crossing the streams from Synthwave Twitter over into dark (and often very weird) recesses of Vaporwave Twitter. There I found a wild Sky just doing her own thing. The best way I can describe 空YAMAHA to those unfamiliar with her work is that it never tries to emulate a specific style or sound. It has a natural flow to it that is clearly defined by the nearly endless depth of her creativity and imagination. I guess if I had to compare her work to someone else, I would say that it very much reminds me of what Alpha Chrome Yayo has been doing over the course of his last two albums “Skylight Sessions Vol. 1” and “Spectral Hands.”

The cover art work (created by Sky herself) for “The Mirage is a Portal” is by far the coolest piece of art on any 空YAMAHA release. It features floating keys, day lightning (dafuq?!), crows flying out of portals in the keyholes of said keys, a desert, and a beautiful blue sky, which accentuates precisely the vibe Sky is pulling off here. When I take a step back and look at this image I feel oddly calm and kind of thirsty. Sky included a digital artbook in PDF form to accompany the release of “The Mirage is a Portal.” This includes images corresponding to each track as well as poetry. This digital artbook was a really nice Bandcamp exclusive extra. Have I said how much I love Bandcamp?

So how does “The Mirage is a Portal” sound? Every piece on this album seamlessly melds together into a whirlwind collage of three dimensional ideas. There’s a weird Windows ’95 quality to this music that makes me long for CRT computer screens, 66 MHz Pentiums, and the Dangerous Creatures desktop theme. Like—I could see this music being front and center on an old laserdisc showing off the latest in computer animation (brought to you by Silicon Graphics) in the mid-90s.

I’ve listened to “The Mirage is a Portal” at least ten times since its release and it makes me feels like I’m having an out of body experience whenever I press play. Time just melts away when diving into this album. And while I think it’s a little too energetic for meditation, I do think that “The Mirage is a Portal” is a good example of how to make relaxing tunes worthy of being the soundtrack to your next lucid dream. I particularly think that this album shines bright in its latter half. “Desert Mirage” was my favorite deep-cut off of the entire album. It combines a pseudo-Asian feel with a slow koto sounding vibe surrounded by slow pulled strings in an embrace of all surrounding sound. “Prism Water Arc” is another nice track that has some off center hi-hat hits don’t sound musical at all—but for some reason they really gel. I quite like the plodding water sound going on in this track as well. “Prism Water Arc” feels like it’s capturing the journey of some clockwork type of machine trying to traverse a muddy desert in search of meaning. “Lifesize Hourglass” has a calming vibe that prominently features a basic house drum beat amidst huge sounding, reverb heavy, modular synths that feel distant yet very near. I like the space that Sky gives this track, she never overloaded me with sounds that took away from my experience. “El Laberinto” was the other highlight of “The Mirage is a Portal.” It opens up with a very dangerous sounding vibe that is immediately given levity with the presence of a goofy cowbell that sounds similar to the one found on the Roland CR-8000.

Overall, “The Mirage is a Portal,” is a neat experience. This isn’t music meant to stir up anxiety or negative feelings. This is the type of music that wants to wrap it’s arms around you in a warm embrace of lush winding soundscapes. If you’re remotely interested in checking this out I implore you to give it a good listen with headphones. iPhone speakers aren’t going to cut it here. Anyway, I loved this album! Please check it out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of lush soundscapes and dreamwave, fans of Alpha Chrome Yayo.

HIGHLIGHTS: “Desert Mirage,” “Prism Water Arc,” “Lifesize Hourglass,” “El Laberinto,” and “Embodiment.”

Album Color Profile: BLUE BECAUSE OF COURSE (#304FFE)

You can find all things 空YAMAHA at https://skyyamaha.bandcamp.com/

Winterquilt is the project of a nameless producer from Liverpool in the UK. Combining elements from symphonic black metal and vaporwave, Winterquilt creates a fascinating amalgamation of sounds that is bewildering, enjoyable, and cathartic. Winterquilt’s latest release entitled “O’Discordia” was released on August 24th, 2020 through Geometric Lullaby.


The cover artwork for “O’Discordia” by Fvckrender is quite a beautiful piece. It stands out amidst the rest of Winterquilt’s releases as my favorite visual style of the bunch. There’s just something incredibly pleasing about looking a giant chromatic serpent slithering through a rose bush. The artwork fits right in with the Satanic vibe of “O’Discordia.” Aesthetically, this is slick and well-executed.


Musically, “O’Discordia” reminds me of the first time I listened to Arcturus’s “La Masquerade Infernale”…way back in 1997. I feel that both albums do something really similar, where “La Masquerade Infernale” combined a Black Metal sensibility with avant-garde Symphonic Metal, Winterquilt combines the sensibility of a Vaporwave artist with Symphonic Black Metal. The result, at least in my view, is mostly successful, however, without the presence of guitars or any physical instruments it makes me wonder how this would’ve turned out had an actual band collaborated to actually perform what occurs on this release. From a technical stand-point, the virtuoso-esque dynamics explored throughout “O’Discordia” have been greatly demystified as the proliferation of DAWs becomes more commonplace in the hands of the general public. Don’t get me wrong, what Winterquilt has done here is breathtaking—but it wouldn’t exist in its current form without the exploitation of complicated MIDI-manipulation via Piano Roll “painting.” This is an album that wouldn’t have existed thirty years ago. Especially not at the hands of a single producer as a lot of what’s going on here would be near impossible to play. That said, I think that part of the fun of “O’Discordia” lies in that simple fact—its impossibility.

At about 2:30 into “His cloven hoof (feat. Naut)” I was flabbergasted by the sonic textures of what I was hearing. Winterquilt combines all of the good elements of late 90s progressive black metal (especially with regards to the drums), cartoony elevator jingles, and Bach. Winterquilt creates space by really laying down hard on the reverb but not so hard that it distorts the original sounds used here. The subtle use of piano is nice, as it creates a certain ambient kind of reflection allows the music to breathe. There’s a good deal of plucky metallics going on throughout “O’Discordia” that are filtered through various LFOs, pitch bends, and portamentos that give a bouncy sort of warmth to this album.

“I’m thinkin of you.. (feat. sage hardware)” stands out as my personal favorite from “O’Discordia.” There’s a couple of reasons for this. The strings on this sound vibrant and alive, but not so alive that they sound like the blah-blah soundtracky Hans Zimmer quality that’s all the rage in the Synthwave scene. These strings are cheesy AF and harken back to projects like Limbonic Art or “Prometheus…” era Emperor. The drums sound rather “human,” albeit in a Deathspell Omega “Drought” sort of way. Winterquilt also tastefully (and unironically) uses that familiar downsampled, slow as molasses, Vaporwave vocal we’ve all grown to love. The kicker, is that instead of coming off as a novelty, it adds real, tangible weight to this song. Go figure. Truly, this is the high water mark of this album.

The title track “O’Discordia (feat. fire-toolz)” is also nothing short of an orchestral odyssey, but it builds upon what the two tracks before it did. It also adds an extra dollop of glitch into the mix that keeps the forward momentum of the album fresh. I particularly enjoy the “applause” that occurs at around 7:30. It just adds a slight visual element that makes me think of some twisted kind of carnival stage show starring the Marquis De Sade himself. The first time I heard the “Boogie” vocal come in, I didn’t really like it, but after a few spins of this album, I think it’s a neat little nod to proper Vaporwave. I quite enjoy it.

The final song “The Pathos of Things” is an upbeat instrumental tribute to the dreamfunky t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者. It reminds me (greatly) of Arcturus’s “Aspera Hiems Symfonia,” both in general vibe and execution.

I often wonder the direction music will take after the “new-car smell” of extreme automation, glitch, and filters finally wears off. Something tells me it’s only going to get weirder from here. As a traditional flesh and bone musician, I feel that the sort of thing Winterquilt is presenting with “O’Discordia” is absolute fucking sacrilege, but as an fellow artist I can’t help but absolutely admire what they’ve done with this album. I think that while Vaporwave can occasionally sound like nightmare fuel, Winterquilt has given that idea legs by creating something frightening, beautiful, and a little controversial (due to how it was artistically constructed).

I think it takes a lot balls to release an album like this. So please check it out. It’s definitely going to be a nominee on my personal list for 2020’s album of the year.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who aren’t scared to admire art.

STAND-OUT TRACKS: “I’m thinkin of you.. (feat. sage hardware),” “O’Discordia (feat. fire-toolz)”

Album Color Profile: #8E44AD

You can find all things Winterquilt at https://winterquilt.bandcamp.com/

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/

Miles Matrix (aka Misha Verollet) is a retro producer from Vienna, Austria. Since 2018 he has explored the far edges of what it means to create authentic retro vibes by fusing together synthwave, chillwave, and vaporwave. His latest release “French Riviera” fully embodies something from each of these genres.

On the cover is a giant neon wave framed by yellow 1980s style abstract art. As I close my eyes to think about it, this image is oddly welcoming and warm. It reminds me of summery sunsets, sand between my toes, and the smell of sunscreen. I was born in Okinawa in the eighties, so as you can imagine I spent a good deal of my time growing up on the beach. Ah…memories.

“French Riviera” is the kind of music that is best experienced with a cocktail in one hand, the wind in your face, and the lights dimmed. There’s a certain romantic feel to this music that makes me want to cuddle up with my significant other and just talk about how things used to be. Generally, “French Riviera” is Matrix’s least synthwavy release, as he decides to fully lean in on his chillwave roots. I think that this is a very good decision as he has created a divergent album within his body of work.

Production wise “French Riviera” almost sounds like vaporwave. I say this because the album is very minimal in terms of how many elements of music are occurring at once. This isn’t a release that creates a wall of sound with synths. Instead it uses sparse minimalism unto which Matrix fully explores each sound in his music carefully. “French Riviera” is simultaneously both wet and dry…much like a beach. Mr. Matrix makes some really good decisions with the subtle use of reverb—which he uses to create a dreamy illusion that makes you feel like you’re underwater somewhere in the Côte d’Azur itself.

While the percussion in “French Riviera” often blends into the background, Matrix gives vibrant character to his drums when it’s essential. This is accomplished via liberal use of Roland CR-8000 samples. There’s nothing quite like a CR-8000 cowbell, and his track “Waves” puts it front and center. Personally speaking, I prefer the tone of the TR-707 or LM-1 bank of sounds myself, but I think that the lightness of the CR-8000 contextually fits really well within the overarching concept of what Matrix is doing here.

Overall, “French Riviera” is a fantastic dreamy voyage. This is a wonderful summer release, and well worth your time. It has a lot of replay value and it authentically helped to calm my nerves today. It’s been a tough week so far but Miles was there with his calming vibes to help me get through. Please check this one out!

RECOMMENDED FOR: Folks who want to chillout, zone out, and close their eyes. If you’re looking for a summertime escape, “French Riviera” is the ticket.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Cloudburst” (what a vibe), “Last Days of Summer” (the best track on the album), “Waves,” “French Riviera,” “Palm Trees & Calm Seas.” (love the horns on this track).

Album Color Profile: #F1C40F

You can find everything Miles Matrix at https://milesmatrix.bandcamp.com/

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is the latest “album” by nostalgic synthpunker(s) The Warhorse. It features ten microsongs with a total run time of about ten minutes. You read that right, The Warhorse produced a ten minute full-length album.

The cover of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is a pastiche of depthless post-postmodern insanity. There’s a very 1970s looking photograph of an ambiguously small person (who I’m assuming is a child) standing on the bottom left. This little creep is dressed in a clown suit, but apparently mom made him put on windbreaker. After all, Halloween is cold in the midwest. To be honest, you would think that the windbreaker would clash with the clown suit’s vibe but it actually works. Behind the little person is a house, a station wagon thing, and a basketball hoop. There’s also something strange happening on the far right side of the cover, I can’t tell if it’s a grill, a UFO (GRILL-FO), or something else. The photograph is framed by some very 80s looking wallpaper stained with who knows what. There are also some remnants of wrapping paper in the bottom right.

If I had to identify what The Warhorse sounds like I’d say it’s a mix of System of a Down, Psychostick, 1980s punk, vaporwave, and early 2000s grindcore. The audio fidelity of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is as you would expect: it sounds like it was recorded (with love) in a wet basement cellar somewhere in the midwest. As mentioned before, this album features microsongs that cut out all of the fat. Instead of meandering about, The Warhorse zeroes in only on what makes a song catchy. They don’t care about algorithmically engineered five second intros—they don’t have time for it. What’s left is a single verse and a chorus, and then the song ends. It reminds me of old commercial jingles—“Remote Control Dad” and “Balloonmaker” are indicative of this.

Micro song writing isn’t exactly a new concept. Aside from commercial jingles popularized between 1955-1995, the grindcore scene that Carcass (“Festerday”) and Napalm Death (“You Suffer”) came out produced a lot of this sort of thing in the 80s. Earache Records also released the shortest album ever with a total runtime of about a minute thirty back in 2012.

What makes “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” so goddamn bloody brilliant is that it is openly declaring war on social media culture by mocking it. The Warhorse is basically saying, “ya’ll motherfuckers are just going to scroll up on my music anyway, so this is all you’re getting.” As a thought experiment the idea of the ten minute album would seem crazy to me. But in execution, it absolutely works. With a whopping 40,000 songs being added to Spotify every single goddamn day something has to give. I mean—let’s do the math: 40,000 songs a day comes out to roughly 2000 hours of music. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. Like—who is actually really listening to all of that? It takes me ten fucking minutes to listen to “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED.”

While microsongs could be viewed as a complete joke, I think that the time is right for something like this to bleed over into the mainstream. I mean, just look at what’s happening to the Retrowave movement, almost all of the aesthetics that made it popular in the underground have been appropriated by mainstream artists. Could you imagine someone like Katy Perry taking just the hooks or bass drops of her songs turning them into one minute tracks and calling it good? It might sound crazy, but it could happen.

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” manages to ride on the outer edges of so called vibe aesthetics while completely rejecting them altogether. This is an absolutely brilliant synthy punk album that is relevant in the moment. It offers a paradigm shifting social commentary on our attention spans, the music industry, and difference between what it means to be a music fan and an actual musician. If you have ten minutes to spare, check this out. It might change everything you thought you knew about music.

The album is fucking dead. Long live the album.

RECCOMENDED FOR: people who enjoy running through the street naked while on fire with scissors in their hands.

Stand-out tracks: “Remote Control Dad,” (batteries not included), “Hamberders,” “It’s Not You…Ok, yes it is”

Album Color Profile: #FF6666

You can find all things The Warhorse at https://thewarhorse.bandcamp.com/

Alpha Chrome Yayo’s “The 19th Hole” is a golf-inspired album that feels like the missing link between synthwave, vaporwave, and pure 1990s nostalgia. It made me feel like I was being transported into a world where the sport of golf was the highest good and everything else could go straight to hell.

What’s magical about “The 19th Hole” is how incredibly visual it is. Every song on this release has a story, and with it comes a full experience that gave me memories I didn’t even know I had. I even felt a sad at times, because I knew these memories weren’t even mine. They belong to all of us–and to me this is the biggest strength that “The 19th Hole” has going for it.

Have you ever gone on YouTube just to watch old corny commericals from the 1980s and 90s? Remember how badass the “Crossfire” theme was? Well, Alpha Chrome Yayo does that for golf.
The golfing theme to ACY’s “The 19th Hole” might sound like an odd artistic decision–but it works out beautifully. Are you looking for fresh feels? Then grab your clubs and get your ass on the green. Tee off starts in one hour.

Don’t worry–you’re home now. Pressing play has never been this exciting.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who want nostaligic feels, lovers of golf, lovers of Synthwave, Vaporwave, 90s Sega Saturn FMV games

Stand-out tracks: In the Clubhouse (After Hours), Sweater Round the Shoulders (And One for the Waist), Power Drive (ft. Danny Madigan), Where the HELL is that Caddy?!, The Smell of the Green

Album Color Profile #196F3D

You can find all things ACY at alphachromeyayo.bandcamp.com