“they meet at the same bar every night… he smokes his cigarette, she holds her drink and looks at him, they talk without speaking” – Album subtext
浪漫的夢想 was the first album to be released on the Bandcamp label Dream Catalogue. The style of this album and the formation of Dream Catalogue paved the way for many future vaporwave projects and helped the genre progress. The label’s music revolves around the idea that vaporwave doesn’t have to be about irony or capitalism. Instead, the goal is to tell a story through music. 浪漫的夢想 does precisely that.
As described by Hong Kong Express, 浪漫的夢想 is “A mysterious and romantic trip through the neon haze of a night in hong kong. A journey of subway carriages and fast cars, a love both lost and found, and a connection between souls.” Translating to “romantic dream”, this release conveys many contrasting emotions, leaving the listener in a torn state of mind. The most prevalent theme that Hong Kong Express uses is the parallel between intimacy and distance with regards to one’s love interest. At a glance, the song titles are relatively positive and convey a shallow — yet hopeful — glimpse at an untold romantic story. When listening to the songs, however, it’s hard not to feel alone.
The album starts with an introduction to a vague love interest, “Girl In The Lexus Showroom”. In this track, dystopian drawn-out sounds are used to make a mid-tempo shuffling beat. Like many of the other tracks on this album, sounds are reflected back and forth in a flurry of reverb. The melody, as played by a mallet instrument, is set up to be somewhat predictable. However, instead of going where the listener expects, they take a turn and hit a few extra notes in-between to add a tinge of dissonance.
On top of using lots of reverb, one recurring theme in Romantic Dream is how incredibly cinematic the music is. The only accompanying imagery the listener has is the album art and self-created mental images aided only by the song titles. One track that follows this style well is “Your drink, sir.” Throughout the composition, a heavy beat is slowly faded through high-pass and low-pass filters while indecipherable female vocals croon over the whole texture.
Another notable cinematic piece is “Central Station 中环站 (rapid transit on her heart)”. This track makes the listener feel like they’re listening to somebody perform music in a subway. The sound of electric guitar is soothing, yet distant in both proximity and emotion. The parallel of hearing the sounds of strangers on the subway and the distant noodling from the performer leaves the listener feeling hopelessly and utterly alone.
浪漫的夢想 is a gorgeous album. Thematically, the contrasting ideas of intimacy and solitude are conveyed very well throughout. In addition, each track has been very thoughtfully composed and works extraordinarily well in conjunction with each other. I highly recommend giving this album a listen.
Favorite Track: Girl In The Lexus Showroom
One response to “Hong Kong Express – 浪漫的夢想 (2014)”
I cannot think about “a night in Hong Kong” without thinking of this:
One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head (1984)