Deposition: Vaporwave Moving from Bandcamp to Vinyl

To relate music to the states of matter, one can declare that physical media is the solid. The structure of the music will never change and will always play in the same order. Streaming and airplay are gaseous. While often dictated by algorithm and chance, the structure of streaming music is far more variable but the building blocks, or songs in this instance, remain the same. Music in a liquid state typically occurs during the creation or performance process, where the structure and form of the music is consistently in flux.

Sublimation is when matter goes from a solid to a gas with no liquid state in between. Musically speaking this occurs when a tape or record is played out of order by a DJ. Deposition is the process of a gas turning into a solid with no liquid state in between. This is a newer phenomena that has become more prevalent with the advent of music genres born on the internet.


Vaporwave is such a genre. It has its origins with lo-fi and chillwave music, but evolved into its own distinct genre by 2010. The name itself is a play on the term vaporware, software that fails to see a release. The music is is defined by the use of slowed down and distorted samples, appropriated Muzak, Japanese city pop, and an overall aged feeling.

Much like discovering home videos on an old VHS, the music feels like a time capsule. The associated aesthetics of vaporwave include early internet imagery, crude 3D models, and old promotional art and advertisements. The fixation on the 1980s hypercapitalism and consumerism is ironic, decrying a lost future of what could have been. Some of the best examples of vaporwave aesthetics exist on YouTube compilations, such as Neon Palm Mall or Midnight Television by user Spliff Radio

From vaporwave came derivative genres such as mallsoft. Mallsoft integrates the sounds of a busy shopping mall on top of vaporwave to inspire memories of Friday nights spent at your local mall. Future funk is the party answer to vaporwave, music is sped up and takes on the feeling of disco. Every genre under the vaporwave umbrella channels nostalgia in the listener, but it goes beyond this.

The Portugese word suadade is a word without a direct English translation, but can be defined as longing for something that has since gone and will not return. The promise of a virtual global utopia connected by technology failed to materialize and now vaporwave exists as a an answer to question, “what if?”. This is why early internet imagery and old advertisements are everywhere within vaporwave. Fans of the genre are all in on the irony of longing for a future that we will never see.

Compilations such as Neon Palm Mall capture the essentials of the vaporwave aesthetic and sound.


Vaporwave became synonymous with the music hosting site Bandcamp. Artists such as Vektroid put definitive works such as 2011s Floral Shoppe on the platform for the masses. Shortly after the genre exploded in popularity, it transitioned to physical media. Pinpointing the the first vaporwave vinyl release is imprecise. Impressive community efforts through the VaporVinyl subreddit exist as a guide for would-be collectors. This wiki points to Dxys Xff by Teams as the first vaporwave album released on vinyl. On May 25, 2011, gas became solid.

Dxys Xff is perhaps the fist vaporwave album to be pressed on vinyl

According to the wiki 20 vaporwave albums released between 2011 and 2017. After 2017 a sharp increase in vapor vinyl began. 2018 alone saw 43 unique releases to the genre, more than doubling the previous seven years total releases. Enthusiasm for vapor vinyl only continues to this day, with artists announcing limited pressings on a regular basis. The more popular relases include Floral Shoppe, Mana Pool, Deep Fantasy and Palm Mall. These are classic vaporwave albums that incorporate the essential aesthetics and sounds of the genre.

Surface level analysis and anecdotal evidence suggests that fans of the genre find these releases desirable due to their limited availability. The desire to collect reflects the consumers desire to communicate nonverbally about their music tastes. Owning their favorite vaporwave albums on an expensive and tangible medium became essential to the experience of fandom. A genre that began its existence free to listen and yearning for a digital utopia is now commanding premium prices for an antiquated physical medium.

Floral Shoppe is a watershed moment of the vaporwave genre


The heyday of vaporwave has come and gone, with many of the pioneers of the genre moving on and creating ambient masterpieces in the spirit of Vangelis and Philip Glass. 2814, a collaboration between Telepath and HKE, is a masterful melding of vaporwave and ambient music. Despite this, the preservation of vaporwave will continue to be driven by enthusiasts who wish to see vapor become solid. The dream of a virtual utopia is still alive and will continue to live in the hearts of vaporwave creators and fans.

How do you rate this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Jose Diaz

Collector of analog media.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *