Hong Kong Express – HK
HK – and, indeed, much of the Hong Kong Express project – is the result of a motley bunch of inspiration that includes works as diverse as Kar Wai films1 and Vektroid’s Shader from the Sacred Tapestry project.2 Along with the Fragmented Memories collaborative project, HKE has gone on record to say that HK is one of his personal favorite albums – and in an October 2015 interview with Tiny Mix Tapes, HKE even called it his favorite of any project of which he’s ever been a part.3
From Daybreak Express to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind,” HK inspires the kind of galvanized restlessness and excitement of city life that’s been immortalized in pop culture ever since pop culture became a thing, as beautifully depicted in the lit-up close-up of Hong Kong on the album’s cover art. There’s no such thing as a boring day,6 for even the uneventful moments have their own unique stillness where one may feel the world moving around them even if they’re only sitting there. HK is wild and surreal (to use more of HKE’s words), and it inspires that deep-hearted love of aimless nighttime adventure that comes with big cities.
As much as HK is a love letter to the city, it is also a love letter to electronic music as a whole. HK was not the final album to be released under the Hong Kong Express project, but it sounds more like a coalescence of HKE’s exploration of “experimental ambient sounds, the abstract futurism of the concept, [and] the great mystery surrounding”4 vaporwave than practically any other album in his discography, with exception of 新しい日の誕生.5 One can hear the influence of Vektroid’s “花こう岩Cosmorama” in the pulsating tones of “Return of Dreams” and the surrealistic phasing of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 on “City Killer.” Although HKE’s relationship with “vaporwave” is an uncertain one,6 – and I do not wish to put words in his mouth by embellishing further on that statement – there is no doubt that HK demonstrates the passion for the exploration of new and unknown musical sounds that the term once embodied for him.
A thousand intentions could be assigned to HK. Sit out underneath the cool neon lights and damn your circadian rhythm; there’s an adventure to be had.
1. Ghost – (6:38)
2. Window – (5:02)
3. Return of Dreams – (6:58)
4. Shanghai – (7:40)
5. Glass Temple – (6:54)
6. City Killer – (10:40)
7. HK – (6:48)
1Thomas, Russell. “Interview: Dream Catalogue’s Hong Kong Express on Vaporwave’s Past, Present, and Future.” Red Bull Music Academy. September 8, 2014. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2014/09/dream-catalogue-interview#!
2“Sacred Tapestry – Shader!!!!! • /r/Vaporwave.” Reddit. 2015. Accessed October 30, 2016. https://www.reddit.com/r/Vaporwave/comments/335o4h/sacred_tapestry_shader/.
3Monster Http://www.tinymixtapes.com/writer/c Monster, C. “Interview: Dream Catalogue (HKE, ２８１４).” Tiny Mix Tapes. October 15, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/dream-catalogue-hke-2814.
4… to the point of publicly abandoning “vaporwave” at the beginning of 2016, most notably with the release of Sandtimer’s Vaporwave Is Dead.
5Monster Http://www.tinymixtapes.com/writer/c Monster, C. “Interview: Dream Catalogue (HKE, ２８１４).” Tiny Mix Tapes. October 15, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/dream-catalogue-hke-2814.
6… which was released only eleven days after HK. January 2015 was a hell of a month for HKE.