HKE – Care for You
Album: Care for You
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 2 July 2017
Label: TKX Vault
- Digital download (TKX Vault, 2017)
It’s an open secret within vaporwave that TKX Vault was more or less HKE’s pet project. The label features a large variety of pseudonymous projects and artists with little more information outside of their respective releases, and many of the releases were intensely thematically and compositionally related.1 This came to the forefront upon the release of the eponymous Hong Kong Express, which was to be the fiftieth and final release of TKX Vault in mid-2016 and harkened back to HKE’s old-school vaporwave roots. A year later, the Dream Catalogue imprint opened again with little fanfare compared to its closure, releasing ten more albums before a second and ostensibly final closure.
The second run of TKX Vault albums were notable for their mordant attitude toward earlier projects and releases, with many older aliases popping up and releasing releases that seemed slightly off when viewed in context. One of the most unexpected was Care for You – one that was more strange because it wasn’t strange. This album is the only release on TKX Vault that HKE released as himself, and its pseudo-romantic, ambient/dreampunk aesthetic stood markedly in contrast with the assertive hip-hop influenced and percussion-focused work primarily released in 2017. This album was as if TKX (by way of HKE) took downer pills and tried to make sense of everything.
Many of HKE’s early albums (alongside friend and collaborator telepath) featured themes of unironically pursued romance, but late 2015 through 2017 saw a turn in HKE’s mind that showed a more acerbic – even pessimistic – take on concepts of romance within music and life. This contrasted greatly with telepath, whose music continues to take an unabashedly optimistic view on love. Care for You alludes to this with its distorted artwork of a man and woman fondly embracing, which HKE embraced in a not-too-distant past. The effect is HKE seems afraid or wary of love. Even the three words Care for You are so naïve, as if the character is reaching out in neotony.
HKE is known for being thoroughly engaged with creating different aliases, mythoses,2 and personalities to explore different themes. One can interpret Care for You as a part of the greater lore developed by HKE through his multiple, interconnecting projects (a story that deserves an article or five) – or it could be an actual viewpoint into how HKE the person, a man named David, has come to change.
1. Care for You – (27:25)
1For an example within classic-style vaporwave, check out DMT Tapes FL. A lot of the featured projects are from VitoJames, the label’s head who has a distinct wall-of-sound production style.