Macross 82-99 – Neo Tokyo (2013, Keats Collective)

Macross 82-99 – Neo Tokyo (2013, Keats Collective)

Macross 82-99 – Neo Tokyo (2013, Keats Collective)

It’s kind of hard to imagine that genres like future funk and vaporwave have been around for a decade at this point. Perhaps its because time has lost all meaning over the past three years, but I still vividly remember when I first heard artists like Vektroid, Skyler Spence, and Cat System Corp. Their ability to harvest the disposable ambiance of the 80’s and 90’s and resynthesize it into both a commentary on the disillusion inherent in late-stage capitalism and certified bangers was revelatory at the time. Hell, I think a lot of it still holds up today.

However, a decade later these genres have begun to recede in prominence. There are several reasons behind this: aesthetic cooption driven into the dirt, a flood of shovelware artists crowding the market, etc. But I think the biggest reason is the most typical, and that is because people just moved on. Like witch house, seapunk, no-wave, psychobilly, or any microgenre before or since, vaporwave and future funk sort of just ran its course. There will always be remnants of the genre, but its time in the spotlight has passed.

However, that’s not to say the music should be forgotten. Far from it. In fact, I think that albums like St. Pepsi’s Hit Vibes, Cat System Corp’s News at 11, and Virtual Information Desk’s Contemporary Sapporo should be considered some of the very best albums of the 2010’s. Which brings me to the topic at hand: the 2013 album Neo Tokyo by Macross 82-99.

Neo Tokyo is turning 10 years old, and to celebrate this, Neoncity Records are putting out a rerelease of this album on cassette for the first time ever. Now, Macross 82-99 never enjoyed the mass audience crossover/critical signal boosting that Vektroid or Chuck Person received, but alongside Hit Vibes, this album is considered by fans to be one of the progenitors of the future funk genre. More importantly to me, this is one of the top five best albums of the 2010’s, and perhaps the album with the most replay value.

There have been countless times over the past decade where I will not know what to listen to and just default to listening to Neo Tokyo. It is one of the clearest examples of a “set and forget” album I can think of. Macross 82-99 created an album that is both effortlessly breezy and consistently propulsive. Whether it’s a straight up banger like “Groove City” or a more downtempo number like “ADD”, it instantly puts me in a better mood every time I listen to it.

I’m glad that this album is getting the archival treatment that a lot of the foundational pieces that helped create it did not receive, and I do find it a tinge ironic that this is the case. Neo Tokyo was built with abandonware; music from decades prior found on the periphery of what music critics deemed worthy of preservation. It took cultural archivists like Macross 82-99 to not only curate and reassemble these pieces, but to understand why they held such significance in our collective unconsciousness.

Now, a mere ten years later, the ever growing wave of cultural data mining has come for those that made it their stock and trade for so long. Is it darkly poetic? In the mildest sense I suppose. But as vaporwave artists know, it is one thing to blindly harvest cultural ephemera for the sake of trying to turn a profit, it is another thing entirely to know what to preserve and how to implement it going forward, and few do this better than Macross 82-99.

For more album discussion, check out our review of the Les Cousins Dangereaux reinterpretation of the Blink 182 album Enema of the State here.

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