(Image courtesy of Dream Catalogue.)
The success story of an underdog can be a fascinating one, and none could be truer for a small duo that would take over the meaning of ambient music. Enter 2814, a 2015 project by t e l e p a t h and HKE (formally t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 and Hong Kong Express at the time of release), an electronic-producing duo. They have recently amassed a cult following in the ambient and vaporwave music scene due to a healthy line-up of releases with stunning production and vivid concepts. Their turn to fame would be lacking if not for the influential rise of Dream Catalogue, a growing label responsible for the ear-catching appeal of “dream music/vapour” and cyberpunk-related concepts. Now that you know the background behind the duo, what made this album blow up exactly?
One could say is in the beginning with their unnoticed debut in 2014, ２８１４. While it is a more neurotic and repetitive release dependent on rhythm and micro-textures to inform progression, it was all the more an enjoyable experience that has been left ignored with musical discussion of the duo.
The strong cult following of the vaporwave music scene and a recommendation from the infamous Anthony Fantano of ‘The Needle Drop’ are all major contributors for the flying success of 2814 later on, but one cannot look past the factor of the music. Its ambient textures and an eye for melodic structure has the lasting appeal and emotions that bring a listener to an album like 新しい日の誕生 (Birth of a New Day). Being in the height of the visual revolution of aesthetics taking over the internet mainstream, it has been able to gain that market considerably well with its hazy, purple artwork..
“恢复” by 2814 (2015), courtesy of Dream Catalogue
Digging further into the actual meat of the story, it all begins with the introduction to the album, “恢复” (Restore). The imminent darkness of the atmosphere and perpetuating dankness in the ambiance enhances the mystique of city recordings and pedestrian life. This growing concept fleshing out right from the beginning can thank the doom-like siren and juxtaposing melodic piano loop, imposing a sense of hearkening drama and melancholy not seen from modern ambient releases.
“遠くの愛好家” (Far Lovers) and “新宿ゴールデン街” (Shinjuku Golden Gai) may be considered sibling tracks that form a unionized piece while retaining their individualistic characters. The former builds a horrifically lonesome and breathtaking minimalism in the synths and is dependent on textures to impersonate progression for the melody. The latter breathes in the melancholy from its introduction to internalize the loneliness to a romantic abandon. A strolling, calm beat and a slush of wavering lo-fi are all that takes to capture one’s emotions.
“真実の恋” by 2814 (2015), courtesy of Dream Catalogue.
If there ever was a go-happy track in 新しい日の誕生, it would be in “真実の恋” (True Love), where a high-pitched, twangy synth hovers the metropolis and rainfall of the heavy percussion. There is a true display of joy in the melody presented that accentuates a deeper layer to the abandon, which would be an inner happiness that will be present in the narrative.
Visibly the largest tracks of the release, “テレパシー” (Telepathy) and the title track”新しい日の誕生” are wonderful finishers with nothing much to explain due to their obvious callback to the microbial beat textures of their debut. There is a deep and simplistic nature to these tracks that see fit to summarize the oh-so heavy visual narrative presented on the first half of the album. Hopefully, this could explain the intricacies of its never-explored nature in the ambient genre. It just goes to show the welcome promise of a duo breaking the ambient mold into larger territory that will appeal to the mainstream beyond the mark of influences from vaporwave.
While the cassette and vinyl has been sold out, you can still download and purchase the release as a CD over at their local Bandcamp HERE.