BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE by Rez and ArtFluids
Favorite Tracks: “The Lounge,” “Fries and Coke,” “Diamond Firewall”
Unlike people, memes never die. That probably explains why I just listened to a vaporwave album in 2017. BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE is a collaboration between producers Rez and ArtFluids that aims to recreate and mock the adult education software of the 1990s. Though releasing 26 tracks that accurately parody the abrasive digital kitsch of the early years of the PC era is an impressive feat, BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE ultimately strives to keep the ironic spirit of the joke behind fads such as vaporwave, chillwave, and seapunk alive long after they stopped being funny.
BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE’s biggest downfall is the fact that it comes well after it could have been relevant. From the years 2011 to 2014, laughing at the chintzy design of Windows 98 was a pastime that seemed like it would never get old. In 2017, chillwave, seapunk ,and vaporwave have all returned to the subreddits from whence they emerged, and the joke is no longer the music itself, but instead the fact that any of these genres were ever respected or relevant.
Though the quality of music should not be evaluated by its intended audience, there is something so irritatingly hipstery about BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE that its fan base cannot be overlooked. The average music listener does not have time to listen to an hour and 16 minutes of metallic arpeggiators, intentionally ugly drum samples, and strange ramblings about why adults should appreciate now-outdated computers. If you put on a track like “Surfing for Seniors” in the average music listening setting, the people listening to it would realistically ask you to turn it off. One of the biggest flaws of the album is that the niche it appeals to is even more specific than the already polemical vaporwave genre.
Unlike more traditional vaporwave releases, BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE eschews a lot of the genre’s melodic synthesizers and glitchy sampling in favor of proudly ugly instrumentation. The sonic palette of the album perfectly replicates the digital brutalism used to soundtrack the software it parodies, but there is also a reason why the days of the metallic arpeggiator and digital bell have ended. The unpleasantness of the instrumentation is at its most obvious on the track “UFORCE,” which sounds like a half-baked Johnny Jewel track sans luscious Moog pads and David Lynch influence. Though it certainly stays true to the meme that fuels the album, it (like the rest of the album) is simply not enjoyable in the slightest.
BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE is also long. Absurdly long. It’s a 25 track joke that clocks in at close to an hour and a half. It is undeniably impressive that two producers can make a parody album that rivals the length of BITCHES BREW, but it can also make it hard to laugh at the joke when the joke never changes. In a lot of ways, BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE is like a full-length movie that never changes scenes. Though there are slight variations, there is no plot arc or development of any sort, ultimately making it simply arduous.
At this point it’s probably time to accept that vaporwave isn’t that funny anymore and that musical memes ultimately lock themselves into quickly fading fads. Listening to BRØDERBUND SOFTWARE LIBRARY DELUXE in its entirety was an undertaking that felt frivolous, as the joke that fuels the album has already played itself out and there is little potential for the album to leave a significant impact on music outside of a small and now irrelevant niche. While Rez & ArtFluids did a good job of developing a joke, it just isn’t a joke that most people need to hear.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend