Television Experience – The City Never Ends
Number 18 in the TKX Vault should be subtitled “A short film by Hong Kong Express”, as it’s easily one of the most “cinematic” releases in vaporwave thus far.1 The cover anticipates something late night lo-fi, but The City Never Ends is far from that: it’s lo-fi electronica akin to early computer music and synthesizer scores, having more in common with Vangelis than – say – telepath or Future City Love Stories. This is probably the closest that HKE has been so far to the world of outrun, which takes direct inspiration from eighties movies and car/outside culture with the delicate malfeasance of film noir.
The City Never Ends is a spiritual sister to another TKX Vault and HKE-alias release, that of METROPOLISからオーディオ by ニューシティ. The two share such distinct stylistic similarities that it’s a bit of a surprise that The City Never Ends was released under that moniker rather than as Television Experience. The only other extant Television Experience release is the chaotic vapornoise of Y. 2089, which is far removed from this album’s movie-soundtrack milieu. The City Never Ends shares in the dated textures of METROPOLISからオーディオ; both releases have a rich production that emphasizes the mid-range, giving them quite a bit of warmth despite the mechanistic minor-melodies that pervade either’s composition.
Opening tracks “Forever the City” and “Infinite” have digitized plucking-sounds and synthesizer flitters that have similar qualities to Brain Eno’s first Music for Films albums. They’re followed by the arpeggiating keyboard of “The Neon Sleep”, which definitely isn’t a sleepy track in the slightest. Up next are a few more tracks that really deserve the usually say-nothing tag of “cinematic”: “An Empty Glass, An Empty Bar” is evocative by title alone, but it also has several cues and a melancholic lead that truly gives the feeling of looking out over rooftops much like the character on the album artwork. The album gets a serious classic-style vaporwave twist on “Last Chance Casino”, then returns to the previously-mentioned electronic soundscapes for the next several tracks. “It Never Ends” closes the album like a credits roll, playing a fast video game-like progression that deftly hits the outrun mark.
1. Forever the City – (2:32)
2. Infinite – (1:22)
3. The Neon Sleep – (2:46)
4. An Empty Glass, An Empty Bar – (1:28)
5. Darkwalker – (2:20)
6. Her Music Box – (0:54)
7. Last Chance Casino – (2:28)
8. Full Moon – (1:26)
9. An Empty Bottle, An Empty Street – (2:29)
10. The Aphotic Sleep – (2:03)
11. The End? – (3:42)
12. It Never Ends – (2:36)
1Kinda like ELECTRIC▲L TE▲RDROPS by DARKPYRAMID.