仮想夢プラザ – TKX Vault series
With the exception of the self-titled release (which is better viewed as a proof-of-concept album), the 仮想夢プラザ (Virtual Dream Plaza) series by telepath received its proper start with a series of three releases on TKX Vault over a span of ten days in May 2015. Dropped quietly and somewhat out of nowhere, these three albums were the inauspicious beginning to one of the most ambitious and prolific projects in vaporwave history, which comprised almost eighty albums over three installments and various side releases in just two years with no word of stopping. Having been released on TKX Vault (then known as Tokyo Exchange) only added to the mystique – the label gained notability from some and notoriety from others by releasing extraordinarily experimental works of cyberpunk music by pseudonymous projects such as C A S I N O ☆★☆★☆ M A S T E R, emperor tangerine, ULTRACOMPUTER, and City Developer; in addition to another telepath album: the community-acclaimed 神秘的情人 as 泰合志恒.1
This first series set the template for 仮想夢プラザ releases hereinafter, codifying many tropes that would be put to high-quality use over each installment. For example, each of these three releases is between thirty-one and thirty-two minutes in length – and this succinct, almost exactly half-hour format would be the model for practically every 仮想夢プラザ with the exception of compilations and a select few double-albums.2 The tracks are a surreal, highly ambient trip that loops swirly and indistinct samples from Japanese media, often with themes of love and sensuality woven into the presentation. Each work’s title implies a vague reference to a lover or partner (e.g. あなたを待って translates as “Waiting for you”), and from here on out, every album released through this project would bare an image of a Japanese woman looking out onto a landscape or at the viewer.
All three works in the TKX Vault release are highly melodic and follow distinct rhythms and cycles, despite the initial impression that 仮想夢プラザ might be little more than pure drone. These three works also feature substantial usage of field recordings, more than most of the other 仮想夢プラザ works. For example, ここに彼女が来ます and 最初の別れ prominently feature falling raindrops. Although the immediately recognizable compositional techniques of slushy production and heavy use of reverb and delay that characterized previous telepath releases are still present, there is a marked focus on ambient music on the TKX Vault 仮想夢プラザ releases that makes them distinct from the rest of telepath’s discography. Such ambiance (if not “ambient”) would eke its way back into the main telepath releases as well – to which fans of the eighteen-minute long “愛の多くの顔” from アンタラ通信 can attest.
Yet these three albums are more than just historically placed at the beginning of the 仮想夢プラザ tenure. They’re exceptionally beautiful works that evoke vaporwave hypnagogia and surrealism in ways that few other artists had touched then or have touched since. Each of the three albums have a well-defined lusciousness to them in telepath’s rich production choices and in the layers of samples, delays, and synthesizers. Whereas quite a bit of “slushwave” and ambient vaporwave may be (appropriately) challenged for self-indulgent homogeneity, the 仮想夢プラザ releases on TKX Vault are deserving of recognition for orphic enchantment that is belied by their apparent simplicity. Quite simply, it’s easy to get lost in this kind of music.
The TKX Vault series was an excellent beginning to the 仮想夢プラザ project, demonstrating telepath’s exceptional efficacy at extracting a highly unique beauty from obfuscation.
1. あなたを待って – (31:34)3
2. ここに彼女が来ます – (31:05)4
3. 最初の別れ – (31:31)5
1… which arguably pre-empted the kind of aesthetic that telepath would explore in 仮想夢プラザ, albeit with a greater focus on melody than hypnagogia.
2E.g. Guardian, which was released through the Pyramids label.
3Japanese translation: “Waiting for you”
4Japanese translation: “Here she comes”
5Japanese translation: “First farewell”