“I am a collection of thoughts and memories and likes and dislikes.
I am the things that have happened to me and the sum of everything I’ve ever done. I am the clothes I wear on my back. I am every place and every person and every object I have ever come across.
I am a bag of bones stuck to a very large rock spinning a thousand miles an hour” – Macaulay Culkin.
For someone who has spent a significant amount of time in the Vaporwave community as both a fan and a producer, I must admit that I’ve probably listened to far more obscure works than the better known albums that have attained classic status in the scene. There’s just something very rewarding about casually browsing for music and stumbling upon a hidden gem or getting recommended an underrated masterpiece by a colleague. Home Alone by Talk Boy F/X + is one of those albums.
Since its release on the seemingly defunct NuWare™ label in 2018, Home Alone doesn’t appear to have gotten too much attention. All the information I could gather was that it had a limited run of Cassettes that sold out quickly, but not much else. Even the album’s creator doesn’t seem to have any online presence as far as I can tell, and hasn’t released any other works under the Talk Boy F/X + moniker. This is all fitting, I suppose, as the concept behind this album is every bit as enigmatic and mysterious as its creation.
“Benevolent Son”, Home Alone’s haunting opener.
For a niche micro-genre as unusual as Vaporwave, Home Alone is a true head scratcher of an album. As indicated by the album’s title and the artist’s alias, this 15 minute EP plays out as a sort of love letter to the life and career of former child actor Macaulay Culkin. A quote attributed to the adult Culkin serves as an epigraph in the album’s description on Bandcamp, and just about all the tracks’ titles are references to his filmography, from the obvious (the album’s opener “Benevolent Son” is a play on The Good Son, in which Macaulay played an even deadlier child than Kevin McCallister) to the obscure (“No Elvis” seems to be in reference to the urban legend that Elvis Presley makes a cameo in the first Home Alone movie).
Even stranger, Culkin doesn’t appear anywhere in the album’s artwork. One would half expect to see a VHS grab of scenes from one of the actor’s many films, but instead we are given the image of a despondent Mickey Mouse sitting in a low-res, live action bedroom adorned with movie posters on its hot pink walls and an empty wine bottle just below his feet. It definitely seems like a wasted opportunity to show a still of Good Son Culkin wearing his grotesque papier-mâché mask or even an empty city street from one of the Home Alone films.
Similarly, Talk Boy never samples anything remotely related to Culkin’s acting or musical career. Instead of rousing John Williams’ scores slowed to 70% or frantically edited Pizza Undergound songs, we instead are treated to a collection of hauntingly remixed Ambient Jazz pieces that don’t appear to correlate with the overall themes and motifs in the slightest. Whereas most Vaporwave albums tend to evoke an overtly 1980’s or early 90’s sound, the samples in Home Alone are from an indeterminate era.
“No Elvis”, one of the several eerie Jazz-based tracks that appear on the album.
The opening track “Benevolent Son” is a hypnotic Lounge piece sung by an androgynous crooner in an indiscernible language, an effect that is both dreamlike and unsettling. “Witching Hour” conjures images of acapella singing tribesmen gathered together for a ceremony out in the desert. “Flying” is probably the most traditionally Vapor sounding song on the album, consisting of a trippy Soul sample being looped repeatedly. The songs “Coma”, “Cast out of Heaven”, and “Agoraphobia” are the most abstract pieces but somehow still fit the album’s overall tone.
It is virtually impossible to try and categorize Home Alone as a specific style or subgenre of Vaporwave because it simply does not adhere to any sort of sound popularized in other albums, at least none that I’ve heard before. It has a lot more in common with classic-style Plunderphonics than something as traditionally a e s t h e t i c as the Vektroid classic Floral Shoppe, yet somehow remains distinct from more Hauntological and Experimental works like Infinity Frequencies’ Computer trilogy.
While I wouldn’t necessarily rank this as one of the greatest Vaporwave releases of all time, it’s such a fascinatingly strange and ambiguous work that I cannot help but recommend it to anyone looking for something different from the more standard chop n’ screw stylings that have since defined the genre. It’s truly in a league of its own.