For a while I’ve been considering these sorts of nostalgic digital excavation, and I was driven to think—what obscure, bizarre worlds exist outside the Internet? (If you’re interested in the kind of music played during Adult Swim bumpers, this site compiles every A. I never immersed myself in a whole night of its crazy world.
, Oneohtrix Point Never’s 2013 album, I am convinced that Lopatin has observed an extant world somewhere in the internet and interpreted it through music.
When I listen to Vektroid, I am convinced that she has observed the currently popular ironic internet aesthetic and spun it her way.
I assume this because each album provides a glimpse into what I believe to be a larger diegesis—and that “glimpse” bit is significant.
The Internet is weird territory, mostly because of how unfathomably deep it goes, how many curiosities you can discover, how many subcultures exist—if you search for one thing on Wikipedia, of course it leads to another and another and you end up reading about Emperor Norton.
Okay, maybe that’s just me, but you get the point: excavating the web is like falling into a rabbit hole, and like Alice in Wonderland, one may find herself in obscure environs made up of the dark minutiae of Internet culture.
In recent years, many musicians—primarily electronic—have been exploring various Internet rabbit holes and turning them into art; I’m talking about Daniel Lopatin’s recreation of the offbeat and abject internet and Rjyan Kidwell’s presentation of the JRPG as a meta-life; I’m talking about whole genres like vaporwave and chillwave that have been invented to explore ’80s late capitalism with accelerationist critique.Often, as is the case with Macintosh Plus and High Tides, the band’s aesthetic is inextricably linked to the subculture it elucidates.These projects attempt to simulate an immersive trip down the rabbit hole, and most do so quite successfully. hosts Toonami from an inexplicable spaceship and shares video game reviews.Note each artist’s adherence to bygone curiosities: the early internet, PS2 games, and quarter-century old elevator music, respectively. But, to me, what makes Adult Swim such a singular work—moreso than anything else on the idiot box—is the way it directly addresses its audience. Adult Swim itself becomes a docent guiding us through a museum of shows chosen and arranged to create a deliberate narrative. I remember seeing Boards of Canada’s promotional transmission in a Champaign, Illinois Holiday Inn late at night.Note the influence of anime in all of these pieces: Oneohtrix Point Never references hentai; Shamaneater is based on the Persona series; anime has always been at the heart of the vaporwave aesthetic. Sure, it’s a Turner-funded and packaged entertainment product, but it’s also an independently curated station made by guys who thought it would be funny to appropriate the characters of shitty 70s Saturday-morning cartoons to make TV non sequitur. It doesn’t just advertise its own shows to jerk off in your face like the major networks—the bumpers talk to the viewer. The shows are great; the bumpers are great; but to me, as someone with less interest in TV than music, what has really defined my A. I remember staying up to watch Adult Swim air Dan Deacon’s excellent “When I Was Done Dying” video (with animation by Off the Air) and that creepy Flying Lotus collaboration with David Firth.This is significant: most of the albums compel the listener with appeals to nostalgia—nostalgia primarily informed by the narrative of introverted geeky white boys born before 1990. It’s sincerely cool and experiential piece of entertainment. I flip out every time I see a song by Clark or Tobacco or Four Tet in a bumper. As much as I like Adult Swim, I never really followed its rabbit hole.