Listening to #mallsoft is to enter in to a kind of meta-fiction, an act of place-making, and to witness a peculiar shift in time. Small expository details and spatial clues bring to life imagined, forgotten or lost spaces.
#mallsoft is a micro-genre of music released mainly through the online music platform Bandcamp. The first records appeared around 2013, growing out from the genre #vaporwave.
The recordings are built around the trope of an imagined visit to a shopping mall ― heavily reverberant with faint echoes of programmed background music. Less concerned with the vague criticism of late capitalism celebrated in #vaporwave and appear to present a more purely fictional, propositional grounding of a new sound-world.
#mallsoft’s peculiar relationship to memory and “reflection” offers a curious alternative to the linear historical timeline so often reinforced in music criticism. I prefer to hear #mallsoft as concerned more with operating on a set of axes less tied to the time domain (t) and more concerned with (x) and (y) and (z) of the spatial. There is a gravity to #mallsoft that is never secure. Memories are unmoored and lose their reference point in time, sounds are created that return and return endlessly. The mall never closes.
My interest in #mallsoft follows directly from a sustained engagement in the sound of architectural space ― and how we imagine and construct the sonic possibilities contained within them. This playlist is the result of a close-listening to the genre. The visual essay provides a series of reflections and contextual fragments that often work against the smoothness of the sound.
© 2019 Douglas Moffat