2814, HKE's collaboration with t e l e p a t h, has been one of the most powerful proponents of this sound. The project started out as an attempt to make vaporwave without samples, a repudiation of the genre's foundation. 2814's self-titled album did a fine job of that in 2014. Last year's 新しい日の誕生, reissued by Not Not Fun, pointed towards bigger ideas, pulling in more instrumentation to create something that felt epic and unguarded.
In hindsight, 新しい日の誕生 was a stepping stone to Rain Temple. The ill-advised Chinese and Japanese references are gone, replaced by an imaginary world informed by the subconscious. The music is unlike anything HKE or t e l e p a t h have done before. Rain Temple's tracks move gradually, each one unfurling like fractal patterns. Through their 80-minute journey, the duo touch on dramatic breakbeat ("This Body"), 4AD goth atmospheres (the vocal-driven "Lost In A Dream"), Sigur Ròs-style post-rock ("Guided By Love") and beyond.
One moment in particular illustrates the leap HKE and t e l e p a t h have made from their past music. "Transference" combines trip-hop and shoegaze into a bleary daze, like the entranced, overloaded feeling you get from staying up too late staring at a screen. Listen to the first Dream Catalogue release, HKE's 浪漫的夢想, and you'll hear how much has changed. That music was a solid entry into an established vaporwave tradition, slowing down chunks of songs until they sounded otherworldly. Two and a half years later, 2184 has made an album of powerful instrumentation, towering melody and a creatively imagined world. If Dream Catalogue is driving vaporwave forward, Rain Temple is the first major landmark along the way.