The some twenty-five-thousand subscribers to the sunsetcorp YouTube channel opened their notifications to a surprise: there was a new post. sunsetcorp, the early publishing space for electronic producer Daniel Lopatin has remained dormant for around 13 years, with the last video being published on July 27th of 2010. The channel is notorious for housing tracks from his 2010 album Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1, which were paired with nebulous visualizers of old commercials, and computer graphics. Eccojams itself is credited as the first definitive vaporwave album, spawning the massive internet-based genre with its slowed, and looping electronic compositions, and tendencies to invoke deep-rooted nostalgia. sunsetcorp was the original nexus of vaporwave.
The channel itself is a remnant from the older age of music discovery on the internet, where its mysterious side showed through, captivating those who stumbled upon the songs while exploring through the algorithm. I was a time when music discovery was a lot less centralized, and people scoured forums, discussion boards and YouTube recommendations for new music.
However, the channel’s following has more so come over the years with the increasing awareness of Eccojams’ impact amassing a lot of attention. The most popular video on the channel nobody here has over three million views. It features the track “B4” from Eccojams playing over a continuously shifting and ascending rainbow staircase among a dark, deserted city back drop. The video has become iconic among those in vaporwave circles.
Lopatin has never returned to Eccojams. Although there is a volume one, there have never been any subsequent volumes. Many have hoped for a sequel to the album, but their wishes have never been met. When asked if there would ever be an Eccojams Vol. 2, Lopatin stated that he would likely never release them, and that it was up to others to make their own Eccojams, which has come true inspiring the sprawling community around vaporwave, with countless of artists making their own songs with similar techniques.
During the time since, Lopatin has focused on his project Oneohtrix Point Never. With the project, he has created well-acclaimed electronically sampled based albums like Replica and R Plus Seven which to some extent also explored the longing effects of the past, and its decay over time. With the project he progressed to collaborating with massive artists like The Weeknd, and writing scores for films like Uncut Gems. After more than ten years, and the success of Oneohtrix Point Never, most people assumed that Lopatin would never return to the Eccojams project, or sunsetcorp for that matter. It would just sit there dormant as a relic of the past to be nostalgic for.
Of course though, this wouldn’t be the case. A new upload titled MOM YOtube AUDIO 1 was uploaded to the channel on October 24th, 2023, over thirteen years since the last upload. The video brewed an acute sense of excitement among fans of Eccojams, and those in the vaporwave community. It was unprecedented. Seemingly out of nowhere a long dead YouTube channel, epochal to an entire subset, woke up from a hibernation that lasted longer than half of the platform’s lifetime. It left many hoping and wondering if this meant more Eccojams from Lopatin were coming.
The video itself features several different clips of people walking or driving collaged over each other. This is along with home video of people playing guitars at a music shop, and the part from Better Call Saul where Chuck McGill spins in a blurry daze before falling and hitting his head on a desk. The song playing during the video is a messy concoction of tangled noises heaped together. The only thing keeping them somewhat cohesive are oddly intervaled drumbeats, and some sense of rising and falling actions. The best moments in the piece are probably around the McGill section, where it’s lighter and more ambient. The end also stands out with a mellow, sonorous guitar section, with a greater sense of composition, playing out to an abrasively bright, blank orange screen.
The song itself is “Memories of Music” from Lopatin’s newest Oneohtrix Point Never album Again, which released in late September. The song is a blur of zagging, stinging instrumentals that gets lost in the incessant unorganized noise. This is primarily because Lopatin uses artificial intelligence to create many of the moments on the album, and for about all of “Memories of Music”. AI itself doesn’t actually know the different patterns and structures to create music, so it amasses different noises and sounds until it mimics something that can almost pass as music.
“Memories of Music”, and much of Again is disorientating. While albums like Eccojams or Replica can also be described as disorientating, they are so in a mesmerizing, claustrophobic, hypnotic way. Again is just disorientating in a way that makes the listener dissociate from it. There’s so much thrown out from the random AI samples that it becomes too much to handle while not having anything of substance to hold onto. Songs on previous releases like “A2” or “Child Soldier” are purposely formulated, and that’s why their effects work so well. Humanistic, creative thought and care went into creating those albums. Even though they sound robotic, roboticism at least follows structure.
Eccojams Vol. 1 and Again album covers. Images via Last.fm and Bandcamp
For these reasons, the reception to Again can be described as lukewarm at best. Many fans have expressed their dissatisfaction with the album. A big part of that comes from the visceral reaction that many have to AI generated art. All the complaints and critiques of AI generated art being uncreative, uninspired, and just uninteresting all seem to apply to this album. Perhaps with more development and proper usage, AI can be viable in creating music, but as for now it’s disingenuous, and doesn’t sound good. Here, many saw the album as not engaging enough to be enjoyable or meet the standards set by Lopatin’s previous works.
This is likely why sunsetcorp has awoken again. It doesn’t mean or hint towards an Eccojams Vol. 2 being in the works or coming out soon. Instead, it’s an attempt to save a fledgling album roll out. Lopatin probably saw the mild to negative reaction the album received, and decided to post it on the legendary, long dormant YouTube channel in order to garner some excitement for the album. sunsetcorp posting for the first time in thirteen years was guaranteed to attract notice.
The new video doesn’t seem to have the full effect intended, whereas after two weeks, it’s only reached a little over nine thousand views. However, Again is doing fine numbers wise, with each song on Spotify ranging between one to a few hundred thousand listens, which is already near par to the listen totals to some of his greatly praised earlier albums. This whole situation though feels like Lopatin playing at the nostalgia of his fans to generate more success for a detested album. Revered acts returning from hiatus always seem to draw in some sort of media attention.