Vaporweeb's Virtual Plaza Collection and Other Acts of Degeneracy


This is my Beginner's Guide to Vaporwave, featuring a selection of albums from various subgenres with descriptions of each. All albums listed and more can be found in my collection. Click the album cover to go to it.


Classic Style is the vanilla of vaporwave. Older albums such as Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 (the very first vaporwave album!) and Floral Shoppe set the standard for the genre, with the heavy use of repitition, reverberation, and pitch shifting to create a vaguely nostalgic and foreboding feeling. Typical samples include just about any music from the 80's and 90's, but there are quite a few exceptions.


Future Funk is the sonic antithesis to what you'd call "standard" vaporwave. Beginning with Hit Vibes, high tempos, smooth jazz, and an all-around "poppy" feel can be found in this much cleaner take on the genre. To facilitate this, samples are usually restricted to any upbeat 80's/90's songs, including "City Pop", which describes any type of Japanese pop music from that time period. Samples from anime are also prevalent (and surprisingly functional!).


Vaportrap is exactly what it sounds like; trap music with a vaporwave motif. It may seem a bit lazy, but it's far more experimental than you'd expect. Pioneered by Blank Banshee's Blank Banshee 0, this subgenre contains all the imagery and texture of vaporwave, but taken in a new, unsettling direction. Samples are varied, but may focus on tracks from videogames.


Mallsoft is where the term "Virtual Plaza" originates from. Conceptualized in Disconscious' Hologram Plaza, this subgenre aims to simulate the feeling of walking through a dying mall, with plenty of reverb, and for the dedicated producer, authentic soundscapes recorded directly from real stores. No specific requirements for samples, so long as it sounds like the song has been playing through the destroyed speakers of an empty shopping center for 30 years straight.


As the name implies, hypnagogic drift explores dream-like atmospheres that range from relaxing to disturbing. Conceived in Skeleton by 骨架的, this subgenre contains drastically edited music, as songs seem to endlessly drone on, with the aforementioned likeness to a dream becoming more apparent the more you get lost in it. Samples rarely matter, as the end product is hardly recognizable anyway.


Faux-Utopian vaporwave is about as soulless music can get. This subgenre, created in James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual, aims to imitate how any number of faceless corporations might create music (or, more appropriately, muzak). It certainly wouldn't sound out of place in an elevator, as quaint midi arpeggios fill the virtual office building with a feeling of emptiness. Interestingly enough, most albums that fit this description have no sampling at all!