２８１４ – 新しい日の誕生
HKE and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者’s collaboration as ２８１４ on 新しい日の誕生1 defined (and redefined) vaporwave in early 2015 to such an extent that it’s been referred to as the “greatest vaporwave album of all time” by more than a few sources. It’s ranked as the sixty-seventh best album of 2015 on RateYourMusic,2 received a four-star rating on Tiny Mix Tapes,3 and earned ２８１４ a spot on Rolling Stone’s article “10 New Artists You Need to Know: November 2015”4 – to say nothing of social media’s love of the record, especially on reddit, tumblr, and 4chan.
It’s cliché to say that an album “revolutionized” a certain genre, but 新しい日の誕生 anticipated a paradigm shift in vaporwave – a phrase with no inclination toward hyperbole. There’s a distinct difference in the zeigeist from 2015 onward, both in styles of music produced and the ways by which vaporwave would be critically analyzed both within and without the scene. Although plenty of artists had released experimental, genre-busting albums in the past (e.g. Shader’s Sacred Tapestry, Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza’s NTSC Memories), 新しい日の誕生 was one of the first albums to be met with near-unanimous interest and approval almost directly upon release, whereas beforehand, acclaim mostly trickled through the months and years as people slowly explored the scene on their own time rather than there be definitive, timely effects. 新しい日の誕生 blew up on forums and social media – insofar as it could in early 2015 – and from then on, it became not so uncommon to see “hyped” releases, or to see listeners pay attention to labels in ways that were a bit removed from the sheer anonymity of the first few years of the scene. The album represents a change in the way new and old fans of the genre consume vaporwave art, something that occurs to any and every genre as it grows and develops5 – not to mention gaining more interest from contemporary mainstream sources.
新しい日の誕生 also heralded a change in one of the most successful labels thus far: Dream Catalogue, which is owned and operated by the two artists who make up ２８１４. The label’s early releases were far closer to the sounds of classic-style and hypnagogic drift as per the genre’s first-wave, which may be heard through 日本航空株式会社 ✈ Japan Airlines (who now operates simply as AIR Japan) and 豊平区民TOYOHIRAKUMIN. 新しい日の誕生 may be seen as one of the first and definitive releases in the “dreampunk” subgenre, a style of highly ambient music with cyberpunk themes that would heavily influence all subsequent releases on Dream Catalogue and its imprints TKX Vault6 and Nirvana Port. Future years would see the label almost entirely distance itself from vaporwave, preferring “vapour,” “ghost tech” and – of course – “dreampunk” as descriptors.
Listening to 新しい日の誕生 is the auditory equivalent of looking over a city that does not sleep as the lights from streetlamps, electronic billboards, and headlights filter through a hotel window; a milieu that is heightened by the occasional city sounds of sirens, storms, and indistinct voices in songs such as “恢复” and “真実の恋.” The album almost feels like a secret: like the earliest part of the morning when all is still and gray as nature seems to stop and take a breath for a while longer. It’s “intimate” in the word’s true sense: not sexual or disclosing, but personal and made for listening alone with one’s thoughts and the pitter-patter of raindrops.7
Also impressive is how 新しい日の誕生 is a true collaboration of artistry, where neither HKE nor telepath crowd out the other, but play to their own strengths; no doubt, 新しい日の誕生 would not have been nearly as successful had it been a solo act from either artist. And that’s not to disparage their separate work: that’s simply to expound upon the absolutely enthralling experience that is 新しい日の誕生, that it holds up and even surpasses the duo’s also-outstanding projects. Opening track “恢复” is an excellent example: HKE’s penchant for twinkling piano ambiance opens the album, which gives way to telepath’s signature swirly production style as heard on 現実を超えて. “真実の恋” allows the two’s predilection for ambient techno beats to shine,8 creating something akin to “Xtal” off of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Closing track “新しい日の誕生” juxtaposes the oft-used sounds of waterfall against beats best described as proto-ghost tech, resulting in a utopic-cyberpunk soundscape that never feels its thirteen-minute length.
Is 現実を超えて the best vaporwave/vapour album of all time? That’s hard to say: after all, there is plenty of time for more developments in the scene. Who knows what will come from these two artists (and others) in the future? What is certain is 現実を超えて‘s well-deserved status as an exceptional, cohesive work of art that stands out like the electronic signs on its recognizable sleeve. ２８１４’s sophomore album is a landmark release, and it will prove influential and captivating for years to come.
1. 恢复 – (5:51)9
2. 遠くの愛好家 – (6:18)10
3. 新宿ゴールデン街 – (8:51)11
4. ふわっと – (6:36)12
5. 悲哀 – (9:23)13
6. 真実の恋 – (7:12)14
7. テレパシー – (10:08)15
8. 新しい日の誕生 – (13:04)16
1Japanese translation: “Birth of a new day”
2“新しい日の誕生.” 新しい日の誕生 by 2 8 1 4 (Album, Ambient): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song List – Rate Your Music. Accessed June 25, 2016. https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/２８１４/新しい日の誕生/.
3Monster, C. “Music Review: ２８１４ – 新しい日の誕生.” Tiny Mix Tapes. 2015. Accessed June 25, 2016. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/music-review/-65298-65304-65297-65300—26032-12375-12356-26085-12398-35477-29983.
4Weingarten, Christopher R. “2814 | 10 New Artists You Need to Know: November 2015.” Rolling Stone. November 2015. Accessed June 25, 2016. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/10-new-artists-you-need-to-know-november-2015-20151125/2814-20151124.
5… although this is by no means a ubiquitous occurrence among all vaporwave fans.
6Then operating as Tokyo Exchange.
7Speaking of which, upon release, several artists posted artworks that emphasized the raindrops on the album artwork and re-mixed tracks with extra rain sound. Check out a full-album “Rainy Version” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn8-KJvXRj8
8… at least, on this album.
9Chinese translation: “Restore”
10Japanese translation: “Distant lovers”
11Japanese translation: “Shinjuku Golden Gai”
12Japanese translation: “Drifting”
13Japanese translation: “Sorrow”
14Japanese translation: “The truth of love”
15Japanese translation: “Telepathy”
16Japanese translation: “Birth of a new day”