By Eli Schoop, Contributor
Browsing through YouTube, as we all do, the eventual discovery of Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus belies a certain intrigue, somewhere between the weirdness of the Internet and the hint of something more surrealist and astonishing. Deep inside your cranium, there becomes an inevitable understanding of this creation by Vektroid, and that’s where most people’s knowledge of vaporwave and the artist formerly known as Macintosh Plus ends. But Ramona Xavier’s as prolific as Eno and ripe for the cybernetic age, and Laserdisc Visions is one of her most magnificent works, spliced between the cassette noise of old and the CGI pastures of the new.
Vektroid, in her mysterious iconography, flirted with various aliases, flaunting styles as if they were easy fashions. New Dreams Ltd. is a cross between the PC-98 futurism that exists in Japanese visual novels and the Segahaze dreamscape as featured in songs like “Liquid Air” and “3D Wave” (which reference NiGHTS Into Dreams and Daytona USA respectively). Its manifesto is mired not only in the menu screens and interludes of cutscenes, but the commerciality and referentiality of how we interact with media. The idealism that cuts across the album syncs alongside a fever dream, aka a Sega PowerPoint presentation from E3 1998.
Xavier makes the intelligent decision of only making one song over 2 minutes long. This consecrates the sort of hauntology that floats over the LP, a fleeting sensation that stays with you past the expiration date. She is a maestro of curation and placement, deftly maneuvering between manipulating the sample and keeping the original intact and pristine, an archaeologist of the depths. The dichotomy between “Alien TV” and Photo Studio” illustrate how the Portlander is so capable switching moods. “Alien TV” is a slice-of-life vignette, located squarely in the plaza of Tokyo’s business hotels. Meanwhile, “Photo Studio” warps the mind, separating the body from the mind in a psychotic locale, executed by starry eyes and psilocybin.
Intrinsically, it’s hard to connect with New Dreams Ltd. Snippets of songs seem scattered and unfilling. But once the layers start unraveling, there are worlds to explore in this wasteland of VHS static and planned obsolescence. The immediacy of “Mind Access” envelopes you, categorically placed in a Panasonic cryogenic, where you’ll be frozen to death. “Data Dream” perverts the Musak hypnotically given throughout until there’s nothing left. And “Ewing” is truly a funk to get lost in, the product of Yamaha voice synthesizer gone mad.
Genre-wise, there’s very little like vaporwave and this brand of nostalgia mixed with hysteria mixed with distortion. It takes a certain type of person to be infatuated with such a niche crater of a subgenre, usually spending kindergarten home sick watching Dreamcast ads and reminiscing about CapriSun and Lunchables. Laserdisc Visions hits this mark perfectly, merging the curiosity of the unknown to something tangible, in which we can drown ourselves in. It’s an underappreciated gem of the post-Internet age, where we are all longing for a finite connection.