Fridays mean one thing here at Celadon Plaza: Review Day. As stated in my introduction post, I'll be taking the time to review, in depth, sold out Vaporwave Physicals to provide you with the information you need to decide if it's worth the potential insane resale prices.
Today we take a look at the vinyl copy of ‘Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol 1,’ the album that started it all.
I talked briefly about Eccojams in my Top Physicals of March post but I figured it was worth a full review given its status.
Eccojams Vol 1 was released August 8, 2010 via The Curatorial Club on a limited edition cassette. It featured some of Lopatin’s tracks released on YouTube the year prior under the name “sunsetcorp” including the iconic “Nobody Here” along with several other “eccojam” style edits of songs. The cassette found its way online digitally and the rest is history. It’s impact cannot be overstated and it would inspire an entire genre and art movement full of artists both replicating and expanding on Lopatin’s style on the road to the creation of what we know as Vaporwave today. The repeating, chopped, and reverb heavy samples work as the foundation of the Vaporwave formula and they are as raw as they come on this LP.
It should be noted before we proceed into discussing this vinyl pressing that it is indeed unofficial. The record was most famously sold over the past few weeks on the website Rollin Recs, a popular place for bootleg vinyl, but has popped up on other sites and stores as well during March. With bootlegs comes the inevitable controversy of pressing works of artists without them authorizing it or receiving proper compensation. I’ll offer two quick points to address this potential issue some have with this vinyl. Firstly, Lopatin himself has publicly endorsed fans to bootleg their own copies of the album if they must own it physically. Second, given the nature of the samples used on the album, this album would have NEVER been pressed legitimately. Clearing the sample rights would have been a nightmare for a small Vaporwave label. Not to mention Lopatin has moved on since his days of Eccojams, and returning to the project for more official releases seems to be something he would have done already if he had any interest in doing so.
With that said, let’s talk about the record. While this could have easily been a quick cash-grab bootleg release, I found it to be anything but that. Realistically, whoever made this vinyl could have just slapped compressed mp3s on a vinyl, printed a cheap sleeve and called it a day because in all honesty, it still would have sold out. The mystery person behind this however must have understood the album’s importance, as they went above and beyond to assemble one of the best bootlegs I’ve ever owned. The deep blue vinyl color matches the underwater world of Ecco the Dolphin featured on the album cover. The artwork is extended to the back jacket, using fan art for what a potential vinyl pressing may have utilized, and it works beautifully. It even includes a 2 sided insert featuring additional artwork and pictures of Lopatin, information about the history of the album and a review from Sputnik Music. It feels like a full package that easily could convince anyone without prior knowledge into thinking it was an official pressing.
Now for the pressing quality. I’ll preface by saying that my copy sounds exceptionally better than I thought it would. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality coming through my speakers as I spun the record for the first time. It’s nothing earth-shattering and it does have a few pops and clicks throughout, but for a bootleg copy of Eccojams on vinyl, we could have gotten much worse. It’s a little too bright and shrill at times, but it’s still an enjoyable spin when I choose to put it on. Also, if we’re being honest, you probably didn’t buy this record to listen to the most high quality version of Eccojams possible. You bought it because it’s almost certainly the only vinyl pressing this legendary album will ever get and you wanted it to look pretty up on the shelf as part of the “big three” with the James Ferraro Far Side Virtual and Macintosh Plus Floral Shoppe vinyl records you already own. And there’s nothing wrong with that! All I mean to say is this is definitely a release that didn’t need to sound immaculate on vinyl in order for it to be worth picking up.
Music wise, Eccojams is quite the journey. From A1’s opening line “Hurry boy she’s waiting there for you” from Toto’s Africa repeating over and over, to the simple two words from “Lady in Red” looped in B7 to create what may have been the first Vaporwave song ever, Eccojams is the rawest example of the formula we have grown to love. The cuts are harsh and erratic, the pitch changes are unexpected and jarring. The sample use is simplistic and easy to recognize. Yet, the tracks flow cohesively to create a unique listening experience, even now almost 11 years later, that invokes that nostalgic feeling of getting one part of a hit song stuck in your head and it repeating unconsciously all day. Parts of the album definitely aren’t for everyone, and some parts may get too experimental and borderline annoying at times, but listening to it with the hindsight of knowing how it would inspire a genre makes it hard to critique intensely. For an album seemingly devoid of any theme or meaning, it has stuck with many people and I as a significant and emotion filled listen for years. I previously stated my favorite song as A2 - Angel in my Best Physicals of March segment, but after a few additional listens, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy A7 - Alone just as much.
Let’s talk about acquiring this piece for your collection. As mentioned, the website Rollin Recs is the main place where many seem to be buying their copies. It started showing up on their website on March 5, 2021 and even though it is technically sold out at the time of writing this, it has been restocked periodically over the past month. My suggestion to you is to look here first for a potential restock drop, which appear to occur around 12pm PT on Fridays. Other sites that have seen the record pop in and out of stock include Lunchbox Records and Going Underground Records so definitely check in at these places from time to time. Other than that, you’ll be stuck looking for a copy on Discogs, where past sale prices have ranged from $40-60, which is silly for a bootleg. Listed copies at the time of writing this start at a ridiculous $70. Try to avoid funding the flippers on this one unless you absolutely have to or if you find a good deal. It’s a fantastic bootleg and a cool collection piece, but spending upwards of $70 on it is laughable.
There’s my thoughts on the unofficial pressing of “Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol 1!” Let’s see how it ranks out of 30 and a suggested max price.
Pressing/Sound Quality: 6
Aesthetical Pleasure (Album and Vinyl/Cassette Art): 8
Album Content (Music): 9
TOTAL RATING: 23/30
SUGGESTION FOR BUYING: Look for restock on various sites. Only buy second hand as last resort.
SUGGESTED PRICE CEILING: $40
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Until next time, hope to see you around the Plaza!