The online community of vaporwave music is a cultural development that emerged in the 2010s and therefore fully within the ideological sphere of postindustrialism. Consisting of slowed-down samples from pop songs and advertising jingles from the 1980s and 1990s stitched together with original synthesizer pieces that resemble those used in horror-film scores, vaporwave is an undead, artificial soundscape that floats somewhere between music and sound. Its fake nostalgia for an alternative yet ossified past aims to confront our contemporary social paralysis in the face of postmillennial economic failure and political crisis. This article examines gothic elements of the vaporwave music phenomenon to analyze how vaporwave expresses sociopolitical traumas of late capitalism. Derridean notions of hauntology articulate the individual’s self-isolation and objectification under the neoliberal homogenization of culture in vaporwave artist Begotten’s contributions to the hushwave subgenre of the scene (2018–19). Vaporwave’s cyclical and uncanny sounds embody the spectral haunting of Marx in capitalism’s repetitive pronunciation of victory over its vanquished, communist foe in Sunsetcorp’s 2009 single “nobody here” and the manifestations of American political trauma after 9/11 in Cat System Corporation’s signalwave album, News at 11 (2016).

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