Diamondstein & Sangam – The Ocean Between Us
Vaporwave can be a bit of an insular genre at times. Given the intense loyalty many fans have to the community, and their accompanied enthusiasm for collecting, categorising and rating releases, it can be easy to get lost within the style’s confines. But vaporwave can’t run on its own steam alone, and in fact, is at its best when melding with other sounds and influences. Think of the French-House in Future Funk, the huge dollop of ambient in 2 8 1 4 and the entire subgenre of vaportrap.
So in this spirit, it’s brilliant to find an album like The Ocean Between Us, which can appeal to the world of vaporwave, but also sits within a broader electronic music palette.
The album is a collaboration between two distinct artists, the brooding Diamondstein and the futurist Sangam. But the output is extremely cohesive. It’s layers upon layers, each artist overlapping and elevating the other. The Ocean Between Us isn’t just a blunt taping together of two musical styles, as The Wire puts it, “This is not so much a split as a convergence, a meeting of minds.”
There’s broad ambition here too, with Diamondstein commenting in an interview with The 405, “I've always been told that my music is very "cinematic", which I always take as a massive compliment because scores and cinematic music is meant to really stretch the emotional depth of whatever you're seeing.”
The abstract, heavily sampled vibe of The Ocean Between Us gives it plenty to offer the veteran Vaporwave fan. But the influences are numerous here, there’s warbling bass, 808s, washes of static, some Jazz pianos, recordings of rain, a dash of 80s synth. Bright tinkly melodies that would be at home on a Tycho album next to Burial-style echo and grit. (There’s even a ‘Kraut Rock’ tag for the album on Bandcamp.)
There’s a reason reviews of the album have been so effuse with praise. Critical Masses waxes lyrical, “each second is laden with importance.” “The two producers harness the power of the tides to craft a cinematic soundscape that throws wide the doors of imagination.” “As I listen, I stand on rocks overlooking the sea as a storm threatens; the wind whips past me and the air is dense with moisture. I long for someone to return, but I know that the likelihood of that return is remote. Still, I wait…”
Clearly, if you like your music emotional and empathetic this is an album for you.
I especially liked this comment from Sangam in The 405 interview, “Even though we’re literally oceans apart, we still feel on the same waveform of sound and emotion.” If there’s anything the Vaporwave community can relate to, I’m sure it’s that sentiment.