Artist: Blank Banshee
Released: October 10, 2016
After three years of teasing, Blank Banshee, the Canadian cult cornerstone of vaporwave and pioneer of vaportrap, released their third album entitled “MEGA.” Although this album dropped last October, it just wouldn’t feel right letting this gem pass by without a review.
Some initially dismissed “MEGA” as being somewhat sub-par, as this album is substantially different and less
A E S T H E T I C compared to Blank Banshee’s previous releases “0” and “1.” Those looking for a vaportrap rehash may have been disappointed, however they may be missing the entire point of the album.
Vaporwave saw a meteoric rise in attention, popularity, and the number of producers between Blank Banshee’s “1” and “MEGA.” This boom and bust went so quick that many have claimed vaporwave to be “dead” or “played-out,” just like disco and punk. If vaporwave is “dying,” what is a vapor artist to do?
This album is important as it signals another step in vaporwave and nostalgia music in general. The days of stereotypical slowed, down-pitched R&B and marble bust stereotypes are nearly gone – and what we have left can only be described as evolution.
“MEGA” certainly retains its vaportrap leanings, but only just so. This album feels much cleaner and has less gritty edges than Blank Banshee’s previous releases, and as such, it can feel less retro, while still maintaining retro vibes. Think of VHS vs MiniDV. The image is clearer, but still clearly two decades old.
The beats on this album are complex and at times can be very in-your-face, like the intense second cut, “My Machine.” These tracks are so intricately layered “MEGA” often borders on being more akin to IDM than vaporwave.
In spite of the complex structuring, “MEGA” still retains that glossy, laid back atmospheric Blank Banshee sound many of us have come to know and love. Tracks that lack a heavy beat influence (such as “Cerulean”) show off some truly beautiful melodies and at times the album can swing from nearly dance music to full-on ambient, as in “JUNO.”
“MEGA” is also filled with Easter egg samples, and they all seem to come from old MIDI files related to late 90’s games like Chrono Trigger in “Sandclock” and Metal Gear Solid in “Web Ring.” These samples can be obvious or buried deep in the track, and are sure to give any 90’s kids pangs of ambiguous nostalgia.
In closing, “MEGA” is a stunning step in a new direction for a genre many are leaving behind. Blank Banshee demonstrates the ability to take an A E S T H E T I C and turn it on its head – all while still staying true to their original sound, which is truly astonishing. Innovation, thy name is Blank Banshee.Favorite tracks: “My Machine,” “Ecco Chamber,” “Hungry Ghost” and “JUNO.”