When UK Darksynth legend, Occams Laser, recently revealed his secret Vaporwave side project – Mac Lacrosse – it brought to end a mystery that dated back to his debut live performance at FLAMINGOFEST in September 2020.
Removing the bird mask and flying the nest answered those questions, but it also enabled the artist to be more open about his journey into the Vapor-realm. It’s a process that has enabled him to free himself from some of the “constrictions” that come with producing music within a genre with tight creative expectations.
Debut LP, Pristine, came out in July 2019 and was followed by ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ and ‘F.B.D.J’ – albums which both saw sell-out vinyl editions and a liberal sprinkling of fun in both his production style and sample choices. That back catalogue is partly what made the new album ‘Truth Decay’ stand out in some respects, when it dropped on Friday.
Truth Decay sees a progression in sound design, with an experimental blend of Vaporwave, Future Funk and down-tempo influences, merging to form his most ambitious and serious album to date.
We caught up with the artist to talk about an album that reads like a statement of the times, the post truth era; and the idea of objective fact being less important to public discourse than appeals to emotion and belief.
“My album title is exactly that. Right now we are definitely living in a time of full blown Truth Decay. And although that can sometimes seem like a harmful thing it can sometimes be (used) to hide the bad or distressing things to spare someone’s feelings.
“To me Vaporwave has always been a kind of Truth Decay where often songs are twisted or manipulated to show a new light and to give new life. Truth Decay to me is a positive force if used correctly.”
The new album also appears to mark a change in direction for Mac Lacrosse as a project. It seems more serious in tone, and experimental in production… It makes me wonder if he’s maturing as a producer.
“I still like to have a little fun when creating music and there are definitely big nostalgia nuggets that express that in the album. However, with each album I want to experiment with new elements and styles so my adventure continues.
“As for Maturing? Probably like bad meat or good cheese!”
It’s interesting to hear how the project came about. Having made Darksynth for many years under a prominent name – Occams Laser – he took the decision to conceal Mac Lacrosse’s parallel identity until late last year. [Mac Lacrosse is an anagram of Occams Laser, which kind of feels obvious now].
“When you create under one persona for a long time it’s inevitable to sometimes feel a little constricted by genre. I’ve always listened to a pretty broad spectrum of music and one genre that I always thought had that extra zing to it was Future Funk.
“In my opinion there was a time bubble around 2013-2014 where some of the peak albums came about such as Macross 82-89’s ‘Sailorwave’, Yung Bae’s album ‘Bae’ and of course the classic ‘Hit Vibes’ by our lord and saviour Saint Pepsi.
“When I hear something so catchy and filled with energy it makes me want to try and create something similar which lead me slowly down the Vaporwave rabbit hole to my first album back in 2019.
“A little late to the party, perhaps, but hey…”
There are, of course, common threads between Synthwave and Vaporwave – nostalgia for one. And yet it sometimes feels like Vaporwave has a more honest relationship with the past than it’s cousin genre.
Vaporwave tends to look back to the past more darkly while Synthwave is quite unapologetically reverential…
I ask him about his own personal relationship with nostalgia and whether that leads him to make any statement with that in mind when producing Vaporwave and Future Funk.
“My personal inspiration often comes from childhood memories. Sometimes that can lead me to riffing on naff songs played at school discos, and other times that can be re-invigorating a slice of a video game waiting screen loop.
“I always want my music to have a personal connection that just maybe others might share that nostalgia. The past is an absolute treasure trove of inspiration.”
With Vaporwave making the steady transition from URL into live ‘IRL’ performance, there are inevitably going to be more opportunities to build a career through playing shows.
Having performed at FLAMINGOFEST during the pandemic, a live streaming event that brought together some of the scene’s biggest names for a two day online festival, I ask if we are likely to see Mac Lacrosse himself taking that step.
“I think at this point it’s not a question of if, but when! Sweating my face off in a bird mask in public is something that the world deserves to experience.”
Indeed… And what next for the Birdman?
“Well, it’s nesting season here, so recharging my birdy batteries ready to fly higher than before! There’s lots of new ideas floating around like bread on the water that I’m currently pecking through so it’s safe to say album 4 is just the beginning 🕊️”
Truth Decay is out now on My Pet Flamingo and available, while stocks last, on cassette, MiniDisc and digital download.
Written by Enzo Van Baelen