チェスマスター – NIGHT DRIVE
NIGHT DRIVE is the second full-length from the enigmatic チェスマスター,1 2 whose conceptual journey through cyberpunk music has apparently chronicled an existential breakdown concerning man’s relationship with technology. These and the other early releases give little hints as to what would happen. They’re mostly classic-style vaporwave and hypnagogic drift with some hints toward the romantic; it wasn’t until 天使3 that things started going wrong (not in the way of quality, mind you).
Originally released on Dream Catalogue,4 NIGHT DRIVE is a sixteen-track journey through the streets of Tokyo. The tracks are the shortest in the チェスマスター discography, with the median being just about two minutes; this gives the album a signalwave-ish aesthetic, as if what you’re hearing is the car radio switching back and forth while catching some errant conversation pieces. As with other チェスマスター releases, the album is full of voyeuristic samples of Japanese spoken word, like little vignettes into the life of the driver and his passenger. The samples have a muffled production that characterized the debut album 真の愛; this makes the record sound closer to the 80s/90s milieu of classic-style vaporwave than the futurist cyberpunk of I am Chesumasuta or 非実体 – for example, the tape hiss on “HOTEL” and the instrumental hip-hop of “駄目 SADNESS”. The track titles and lo-fi tendencies of the album impart a dreamy feeling, which would be further explored on 夢に生きます in 2015.
Fans of the latter チェスマスター releases should probably skip this one simply because it’s the most “dated” of the project in that it’s of a different time and aesthetic than that for which チェスマスター has since become known. Compared to debut 真の愛, it’s a bit weaker in the sense that the signalwave-ish sample curation aesthetic tends to blur together upon listening, making it hard for チェスマスター’s impressive production skills to stand out in the way they deserve. However, if you’re a fan of 真の愛 or if you just like your vaporwave simpler and in the vein of classic-style, then give NIGHT DRIVE a shot.
1. FUTURE CITY – (1:31)
2. セクシーな女性 PASSENGER – (2:18)5
3. 東京の赤信号 BLINK – (1:46)6
4. ARTIFICIAL DRIFT – (3:25)
5. NIGHT DRIVE – (3:09)
6. 落ち込ん期間 TOYOTA – (2:49)7
7. HOTEL – (2:50)
8. 新宿 (Shinjuku) – (1:28)8
9. 人生は素晴らしい。BEAUTIFUL – (1:33)9
10. 駄目 SADNESS – (3:12)10
11. DARK LEVEL – (2:27)
12. AUTOMATIC エレベータ – (1:36)11
13. 真夜中の寿命 DRIVING – (1:5012
14. 夜風 (Night Breeze) – (2:04)13
15. 明晰夢 ENDLESS – (1:56)14
16. 300kmh – (1:49)
1Japanese translation: “Chessmaster”. The artist prefers the transliteration “Chesumasuta”.
2(SPOILER ALERT IF YOU PREFER YOUR VAPORWAVE PSEUDONYMOUS) At this point, it should be no surprise that チェスマスター is an alias of HKE.
3Japanese translation: “Angel”
4… and since removed. NIGHT DRIVE is only available through the チェスマスター Bandcamp page and uploaded vaporwave compilations.
5Japanese translation: “Female (Passenger)”
6Japanese translation: “Tokyo red signal (Blink)”
7Japanese translation: “Drop period (Toyota)”
8Japanese translation: “Shinjuku”
9Japanese translation: “Life is wonderful (Beautiful)
10Japanese translation: “Do not (Sadness)”
11Japanese translation: “(Automatic) Elevator”
12Japanese translation: “Life at midnight (Driving)”
13Japanese translation: “Night breeze (Night breeze)”
14Japanese translation: “Lucid dream (Endless)”