The UK-based label Dream Catalogue — best known for popularizing the “vaporwave” genre thanks to releases from the likes of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, 2814, Memory Gateways, Equip, and label founder Hong Kong Express/HKE — has just released one of its most ambitious projects yet: the four-volume Chaos compilation, which Dream Catalogue describes as “a compendium of music from the new digital underground.”
While the four Chaos releases contain plenty of atmospheric music that resembles the label’s traditional vaporwave output, there’s a wide variety of sounds in these 141 tracks that range from digital hardcore to dreamy ambient to soulful electro-pop. Put simply, there’s probably a little something for everyone, but here are a few that have caught my ear so far:
- Iona Dream’s “Silicon Queen” features vocoderized female vocals over minimal percussion and reverberating atmospherics. It opens sparsely, but grows more exotic and otherworldly as the track progresses.
- Echochamber’s “Nimbus” stays true to its title with dreamy, drifting ambience and shimmering synth-work.
- Vaporwave luminary t e l e p a t h closes out the first Chaos volume with “Circle of Love,” which takes what The Caretaker did for parlor room music, applies it to lite jazz and New Age music, and gives it an Asian flavor.
- Baby Sandtimer’s “Creation” starts off with an infant’s cry, which is soon subsumed into a disturbing, disorienting kaleidoscope of digital sounds that recalls Autechre’s twisty-turny IDM.
- P A T H S パス’s “Delfino Secrets” begins with the kind of echoing, molasses slow beats that make you expect another typical vaporwave track, but additional musical elements that hint at both shoegaze and Japanese Whispers-era Cure make it far more interesting.
- I’ve eagerly been awaiting new music from 2814 — a collaboration between t e l e p a t h and HKE — and “Triad” doesn’t disappoint, as its lovely-yet-haunting piano melody plays against a distant backdrop of urban sounds. Hopefully this a sign of more to come from the duo.
- Sangam’s “Time Froze” is another Chaos track that takes the label’s historic vaporwave sound as a starting point, but ultimately moves into more abstract and atmospheric realms of pure sound.
- The flurry of beats and synths on Argiflex’s “Gunmetal & Gold [Lost Mix]” plays out like the ultimate boss battle music from the greatest Sega Genesis game you never got a chance to play… as remixed by Windowlicker-era Aphex Twin.
The tracks listed above barely scratch the surface of the Chaos releases, so if ambient music isn’t your thing as much as it’s mine, you’ll probably find at least a couple of tracks that piqué your curiosity. All four Chaos releases are now available on Bandcamp for whatever you’re willing to pay.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.