Make-up and Vanity Set
“I had heard of Makeup and Vanity Set before but I had yet to really submerge myself in their waves. This being the first of their albums that I have completely listened through. Each song seems to illustrate a different part of a diverse and futuristic cityscape.”
Our man Ethan Eicher’s short story, where he’s going to some shady drift event, cracks a few beers with an enigmatic figure called Dustin, who plunges into strong current river… Written and inspired by the new album “Syncro” by Make-up and Vanity Set on Data Airlines.
—– City Realms
It was the year 2017 and we had been driving for what seemed like a journey to the moon. Hell, this endeavour had barely even begun and we were already a couple hours in. By the time that my agent, Tokyo, had showed up at my house to pick me up, I was already down a few PBR’s.
‘Naturally, I’ve already been drinking, Tokyo. It’s my day off and there’s nothing to do in this hypermassive void of a city. A warm night, like this one, and the city sighs.”
Tokyo tells me that everyone is going to some sort of Drift Event out in Sturgis and that there will be food. I emphasize that we must have strong drink.
‘You know, you’d be able to hear me a lot better if you turned the music down!’
What are you listening to anyway?’ He asks as I gather my things.
‘The new MakeUp and Vanity Set album. I’m trying to write a review about it. That last song was called City Realms.”
The moment couldn’t have come soon enough, I’ve been desperate for a story to tell and how perfect it all appeared to be considering I was almost completely out of time. But first, I’m going to finish this beer.
Pulling off the highway exit, 35mph over the speed limit, I could tell my associate was excited for this. He fondly recollects the days back when he would drift the vast street networks of Japan. We find it easy to identify where, in this small town, the location of this party was by following a looming haze of burned rubber and exhaust near city limits.
‘The Second Annual Black Hills Drift Competition”, the banner read.
Bright lights, loud engines and oh look! That woman is puking (we must be late), but this is a party I can get into.
I grab the bluetooth speaker in order to transport the music to our so-called camp where a girl was cooking. Cars decorated in the most outrageous manner pull up in line, four at a time, revving their engines just before they tear off ahead. The sound was like that unto Five Hundred Thousand Bald Eagles diving from the sky in reentry from the International Space Station. I was thrilled and the song, “Mirrors”, seemed to blend with the moment seamlessly.
‘I’m gonna go get a drink’ I say and waltz towards a large shack that has to be a bar.
Maybe there was a hundred, if not more, rugged individuals all set up in a large parking lot. At the center of the parking lot sits a closed event center or warehouse and these drifters race around it. It was peculiar, I began to think, as the song changed I came under the perspective that this was a dystopian, second Great Depression era, shanty town. It truly appeared that way too. It was the middle of the night and there are camps and cars everywhere, tightly packed and they are mostly occupied by car mechanics or drivers.
‘Hey don’t get weird around here bud. What do you want?’ The bartender, who had the appearance of an Alaskan Crab Fisherman, retorts.
I imagine they only have beer here. The economy is in shambles and I’m sure it’s the only thing we can afford these days. If I had a wife I would be missing her right now considering I would’ve had to leave the family to work here. I get my beers, light my cigarette, leave a tip and wade my way through this junkyard colony.
I was barely capable of properly maneuvering through this mechanical labyrinth… Surely, it was just my luck that I would lose my way and call upon the aid of the first group of people I could find. They were cooking as well so, I decided to stay with them for awhile. Perhaps I may never see Tokyo again tonight. Like a stray dog I had become and I have been inadvertently adopted by my new family.
—– Pure Wave
‘Look guys, I apologize for interrupting your conversation but I am on a mission of high importance. Muoy Importante! I need your help. Do you hear this song? It’s legit right? Right, now its called “Stimulation” by a band named Makeup and Vanity Set. ”
Their faces were blank and their demeanor cold. After further conversation, I inform them about Retrowave and what I was doing. However, in mid conversation, one of the men points and calls for someone to take care of me. At that point, I’m grabbed from behind and pulled away. It’s Tokyo, just in time.
‘What’re you doing man?” Tokyo asks
‘I want to get an interview with these drivers for the review” I reply.
‘Why do you need an interview with drivers for a review? Is it video or something? here take a drink of this. ”
He hands me a large plastic cup full of what I’m sure is a very potent cocktail. My agent never does play around and I honor him for that.
‘Look I can get you an interview, right now actually. ” Tokyo states.
‘That easy? Okay, lets get it done then. Damn,what is in this drink, rocket fuel?”
The drink was rocket fuel and it was growing ever apparent that these Drift Raiders weren’t appreciating the song.
‘Fuck’em. I’m on a mission’ I thought.
‘Look, just let me do the talking and this will work.’ Tokyo says as we approach a large accumulation of parked cars.
It didn’t take long for our identities to be revealed and Tokyo says that he is my agent and that I work for the news station, that I’m doing a story and that I want to interview some drifters. I introduce myself and they seem skeptical.
‘Look, the story is about midwest summer nights, living life to unimaginable heights and breakin orbit.” I blurt out.
“But, its not even summer. ” One bearded hillbilly says.
Another chimes in ‘I fucking love it! I’ll do it!” He steps into view from behind his car door.
‘The names Dustin.” A fat man. It doesn’t matter, I’ll take whatever I can get.
He brings to our attention a party at Hippy Hole after this event and that if we wanted to come with we could follow him. I’ve never to been to a place called hippy hole but Tokyo assured me that it exists. He’ll do the interview there, he says and that it was turn to race for the last time.
The man’s car was overgrown with led light vines but it was quickly apparent that the man could drive well. I found it impossible to understand who was winning and who wasn’t but by judging how enthusiastic Dustin was, I would assume that he won. Or maybe he is always like this?
We later find out that Tokyo’s sister has taken his car and left us stranded. Luckily, Dustin offered us a ride.
—– Pattern Recognition
‘Homie, I am totally diggin this beat right now!” Dustin calls out over his car stereo system as it bumps “Syncro”.
I nod my head and he tosses a beer can out the window. The car we are in is one in a long line of other cars all headed to the same place; Hippie Hole. We turn off of the highway and onto a rugged dirt road. I was unsure if his car could make a journey like this.
After roughly twenty minutes of a rough ride we make our way to an opening and come to a stop. Looks like we’re walking the rest of the way. How hard could this be? Of course, it was in the middle of the night and we were high up in the hills about to go to some kind of hole. However, there were so many other people that I couldn’t help but feel comforted that this may be normal behavior.
My agent carried a flashlight as I carried the bluetooth speaker and up we went into the wilderness. There was no longer any roads or trails and as we got further in it seemed like the group was scattering away from one another.
This is a death trap, a suicide mission. What were we all thinking making a journey like this? Time passed and we could maybe see only one other person in the distance. We were growing tired, impatient and subconsciously concerned that this whole experience may actually be a complete hallucination.
“Shhh! There is a goat in front of you Tokyo!” I whisper.
And there were many goats in front of us. We all stared each other down atop the peak of this stone hill.After a spiritual connection. Then they just moved on and cautiously, so did we. We could hear rushing water getting louder and not to long later we found ourselves thirty feet above a raging river. The river ran and was split by a cliff causing a waterfall to form. There were already a handful of people there with campfires and lanterns lighting the area.
Out of the woods more and more people emerged, drinks were poured, smoke was smoked and we found Dustin. Dustin stood atop a high cliff overlooking the bottom of the waterfall.
‘Hey boys!” He shouts just before jumping into the river.
Or at least attempting to, his foot slips and he falls into the river that leads to the waterfall. We all gasp as we watch him struggle to not get dragged by the current that casts him down to the river below. Many people dived in to save him. I was sure he had died but behold, he emerged from waters shaken but unscathed. And just as he did so the beat came in a way that seemed to signify our victory.
The rest of the night is a blur of campfire stories and strange emotions but eventually we are taken back home. Where I wake up with an immense hangover, soaking wet, a pocket full of lugnuts and all of my story notes scattered throughout my room. I feverishly type out the story to the best of my ability and summation of this album in my review.
“I had heard of Makeup and Vanity Set before but I had yet to really submerge myself in their waves. This being the first of their albums that I have completely listened through. Each song seems to illustrate many different parts of a diverse and futuristic cityscape. High energy funk stylings to subtle haunting atmospheres. Cybervibes blended with strong urban thematics, all coupled with very fine and fresh production. Overall, excellently executed retro aesthetics oriented towards the late 80s and early 90s. The entire album is easily cinematic and I find it very easy to get lost in that movie. I found “Pure Wave” to be one of my personal favourites and also that this album feels like it has day/night cycles as a whole.