DREAMPUNK & FUTURE BEATS: An introduction to dream music


Cyberpunk dystopias and ambient music have long had a symbiotic relationship, feeding off of each other’s themes, sounds, concepts and imagery and becoming fused together into one single, hazy, nocturnal, neon-drenched, futuristic entity. The last 3 years have seen an explosion of obscure, underground artists who, under the guise of mysterious corporate conglomerates or ghostly apparitions from an improbable future, are heralding a new era of long-form ambient music inspired by cyberpunk novels, Blade Runner and night-time-driving-in-Tokyo dashcam videos. As one of the best new emerging electronic music labels, UK-based Dream Catalogue has helped push this move forward, coining terms like “dream music” and “dreampunk” in order to describe the surreal, dream-like quality of the music they release. Each album is accompanied by similarly surreal artwork, meant to convey the sights and sounds of a vague, unfamiliar future world with its many moods and atmospheres. New smaller labels have soon followed suit and, all of the sudden, there is an ocean of dream music to be heard on Bandcamp, to the point where you can literally spend entire days immersed in otherworldly soundscapes – yeah, dream music is, unsurprisingly, excellent background music for sleeping or even working.

It can be a little tough navigating through the sheer volume of music that’s available out there, so I have taken it upon myself to provide you with a brief introduction to dream music. I’ll try to highlight some of the essential artists and labels that comprise this new scene, along with some choice cuts from each one, mostly releases that I have listened to myself over the past months, managing to leave a lasting impression on me. The dream music rabbit hole goes really deep, so it’s all up to you how much of it you want to explore.

t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者


t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 is one of the most prominent figures of the dream scene, so much so that weird genre tags like “phaserwave” and “slushwave” are being attributed to him. He is also one of the most mysterious and prolific artists out there – there is virtually no info on the real person behind t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, yet he manages to release an impressive amount of music as well as co-spear the Dream Catalogue label along with founder HKE. The most striking aspect of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 is the lo-fi aesthetic that permeates his music. All of his releases feature low-quality screen grabs of odd, futuristic scenes or characters, while the tracks are slushy, hazy, often long-winded affairs (it is not uncommon for his songs to last well past the half-hour mark) punctuated by the trademark phaser effect that he has become well-known for.

One look at his Bandcamp page is enough to become lost and confused, but albums like 向かい合って (Face to face), アマテラス (Amaterasu), アンドロメダ (Andromeda) or 夢の国 (Dreamland) are all excellent starting points, showcasing Telepath’s atmospheric vibes at their absolute best. Just be warned that this isn’t really the sort of music that favors active listening. It works much better as background music. He also did some very nice collaboration albums with 猫 シ Corp. and Vincent Remember which were released on the Dream Catalogue label. Unfortunately, they have been taken off the label’s Bandcamp page for the moment, so I guess we’re out of luck until they are reuploaded.


仮想夢プラザ (Virtual Dream Plaza)


仮想夢プラザ is Telepath’s side project and it pushes the ambient aspect of the music to extreme levels. There’s a vomitload of albums available that consist of single tracks, each track being around 31 minutes in length. It’s pretty overwhelming at first, but most of the stuff is just stretched-out, highly reverberated sample-based ambient with a heavenly feel to it. My personal recommendation is the almost self-titled 仮想夢プラザ, but feel free to browse around and just listen to whatever album has the nicest artwork. It’s all pretty similar.

HKE / Hong Kong Express


HKE is the founder of Dream Catalogue and an accomplished electronic music artist in his own right. Taking cues from the atmosphere of South Korean director Wong Kar Wai’s movies and maintaining the same air of mystery and secrecy as Telepath, he released several albums under his Hong Kong Express moniker. Sadly, his first albums, 浪漫的夢想 (Romantic Dreams) and 2047 are also taken off the DC Bandcamp page, which leaves us with HK, a dark, gloomy and gritty collection of dystopic cyberpunk ambiances that will make you feel like you are a replicant spending its night in the back alleys of Tokyo. Should you want to explore more of HKE’s recent ventures in electronic music, feel free to browse around https://hkedream.bandcamp.com/. HKE is also behind the alias of Subaeris, an ambient/future garage project that should appeal massively to any Burial fan out there. Myself included.

2 8 1 4


 We mentioned both HKE and Telepath, so it makes sense to move on to 2814, a collaborative project of original music between the two, which they started in order to prove that vaporwave doesn’t have to necessarily rely on 80s samples in order to convey an atmosphere of nostalgia. 新しい日の誕生 (Birth of a New Day – pictured at the top of this post) is arguably vaporwave’s most celebrated and well-liked album to date. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s high-time you do. It might take a few listens for it to really sink in, but once it does, you will discover one of the most engrossing and atmospheric ambient albums ever made. The distant police siren in the first song will give you shivers. However, their self-titled album (pictured above) is almost as good, so there’s no reason to skip it. The third 2814 should also drop sometime this year, so keep an eye out for that. It’s gonna be pretty great.

Tech Noir


Tech Noir is the long-form ambient alias of 회사AUTO and I’m including this because his 完 (Finish) album is a whopping 16 hour slab of abstract, chimerical sounds with a cyberpunk feeling that should turn any dark room into a creepy digital dungeon. I haven’t actually gotten around to listen to it in its entirety and I probably never will, but hey, it’s there! If you ever finish the gargantuan task of listening to this entire thing in one go, do let me know how it felt.

death’s dynamic shroud.wmv


The weirdly-named entity death’s dynamic shroud.wmv is currently busy pushing sample-based music into new territories, with their highly acclaimed I’LL TRY LIVING LIKE THIS and CLASSROOM SEXXTAPE albums, but in their earlier days they were also exploring some dense ambient stylings. DERELICTメガタワー is an ambient concept album behemoth consisting of 84 songs (!!!) in various styles, touching on dreampunk, eccojams, experimental and other subgenres. A heavy mix of sounds that demands active listening and processing power. For a lighter experience, how about シェンムーONLINE? A highly enjoyable vaporwave dance album with chiptune and video game music influences. 3, 2, 1, GO!

Dream Catalogue


Yup, I kept on mentioning it, so of course the seminal UK label gets its own section. It is a veritable treasure drove of amazing electronic music, spanning a wide range of subgenres: vaportrap, dark ambient, new age, future bass and, of course, dreampunk. Your Dream Catalogue fix of futuristic ambient soundscapes should include 安全出口EXIT空间和时间 by Chungking Mansions, THE GAMES WE PLAY by チェスマスター, Lonesome by Renjā, ルートバックホーム by Remember, Into the light by Infinity Frequencies and whatever else looks good to you.


Cyber Dream Records


Moving on to smaller record labels, let’s take a look at Cyber Dream Records, an upcoming label specializing in spaced out, futuristic ambient vibrations from the nether regions of hyperspace. These guys maintain a powerful cybernetic/space/retrofuture aesthetic, both through the music and the exquisite artwork that adorns their releases. Start out with some releases from 漂流する夢想家 (Drifting Dreamer), ΣƶɦĂk, rリiチcャhーaドr_d and tek800 and, if the weird names don’t spook you, prepare for some memorable astral journeys.


BLCR Laboratories


BLCR Laboratories (formerly known as Bloody Carpet) is another small label with a futuristic, lo-fi vibe, providing ambient tunes and music for sleeping and drifting in and out of life. I’ve enjoyed listening to such releases as LONELY_TOWERS_ by FUTURE_TELLER_, FORGOTTEN PARADISE by Sangam and afterlife by reef frequent and I will probably check out some more stuff over the coming months, as well.

Plus100 Records


Plus 100 Records is a label that’s been gathering a steady following recently. Vaportrap prodigy Vaperror is the one at the helm of this label, which has released albums from t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 (you already know what to expect), Remember, whose album ハートエイクに歩い (Walk to Heartache) opens with a monolithic 30 minute slowly-evolving ambient track, and テレヴァペ (Televape), a collaboration between Telepath and Vaperror combining ambient, dreampunk and flowing jazz melodies. Highly experimental and at times challenging music, but great fun to listen to.

And this concludes, for now, our brief journey into the realms of dreampunk and dream music. Hopefully you have enjoyed the recommendations and have bookmarked some albums for later listening. As I said, this kind of stuff is perfect for night-time listening or boring office drone work, so if you’re ever in the mood for some flowing, dreamy, surreal, futuristic soundscapes, I hope this post has pointed you in the right direction.

MIAMI’S FINEST: An interview with VHS DREAMS



We here at TZEEEAC HQ are thrilled to bring you this sweet interview with synthwave prodigy VHS Dreams, who brought you the vaporwave stylings of North Point Mall and TRANS AM, his newest synthwave release. VHS Dreams’ hologram materialized on my computer screen one fateful evening and talked about his music, his new label, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and, of course, Greek food. Take it away!

1. Hello and thanks for agreeing to talk to me. This is the first interview I’m ever doing with an artist who has been involved in Vaporwave since I renounced my METAL ALLEGIANCE, so this is really exciting. This is going a bit against the grain of my preference for keeping the Vaporwave stuff I listen to as anonymous as possible, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a chat with you. How’s the weather like in… wait, where do you live again? And please go ahead and introduce yourself while we’re at it.

My name’s George, born and raised in the Greek island of Evia. At 18 I tried to study sculpture and painting but got bored and quit. A while after that I realized that through music I could pull various much-intended ideological gimmicks and therefore I left the country to seek my fortune abroad and set things in motion. Since then I’ve lived in Vienna, Berlin and England. Ideally I like spending several months of each year in different countries. The weather is great in Greece, in Germany and England not so much and it matters a lot to me cause I’m highly cold-sensitive.

2. 2014 was the year you managed to break into 2 scenes with your music. First, VHS Dreams The EP, your Synthwave album, dropped on Future 80s Records (a Bucharest-based label, right?) in July, then you took Vaporwave by storm when you released North Point Mall later that year. This is a cliche question but were you surprised by the great response you received with these 2 albums? When did you realize you were on to something?

I expected North Point Mall to be well received cause the very reason I made it for was to simply have something that is 100% cut-copy Vaporwave and adheres to all the genre’s musical cliches as well as the subject of capitalist satire. At the time I was pissed off that people would just post irrelevant stuff on facebook groups, trying to jump on the bandwagon with little quality or merit. Meanwhile people were asking me about Vaporwave, what it is, what it sounds like and all, so I just wanted to make an album that I could simply toss at them and say “that’s Vaporwave pretty much”.
As for my VHS Dreams EP, that was a product of my tendency to work with 80’s sounds. I used to make stuff like that for fun, but upon the realization that other people were actually doing that kind of music too I decided to focus on making a release that is pure Synthwave/Outrun. I had no grand hopes for it as it was my first ever official release and, like most of the stuff I do, was intended as a novelty comment on the 1980’s, but it got picked up by the Synthetix crew and audience and they brought it up to the foreground. It was a great moment.

3. Is VHS Dreams your first music project or are there any lame high school bands we should know about? How did you discover Vaporwave and what made you decide to start your own project?

There are no lame high school bands to be found here, only lame high school hip-hop crews (laughs)! I used to make lots of different styles when I was in the slammer (that’s how I call school). My first official project was a Hardstyle/Hard Trance one called “The Philosopher” but it didn’t pick up and I didn’t focus seriously on it. I found out about Vaporwave through a friend, and got stuck with it. Not just the aesthetics, the whole plunderphonics ideal, the disdain of the copyright system, and the anarchy of it all just won me instantly.

4. One quick look at the cover and song titles and there is no question: North Point Mall is heavily influenced by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. What was your favorite radio station from that game and how do you feel about the infamous remote helicopter mission?

I went changing favorite stations during the years, and along with that my knowledge and “initiation” process into 1980’s music was developed. My first favorite was V-Rock, but after I’ve done the circle I’d say my current favorite is Emotion 98.3. Oh, and that helicopter mission; I passed it on second try and I never understood why it was so hard for others. All the kids around the neighborhood would call me to go pass it for them. I felt like a hero back then.



5. TRANS AM, your first LP, has also enjoyed a great deal of success in the retro scene. Is TRANS AM 100% original or did you use any samples? How do you feel it compares with North Point Mall?

I used vocals from sample packs, and I also sampled a track from Alpharisc, the rest is 100% original production but there’s a lot of plagiarism on a compositional and aesthetic level. It is diametrical to North Point Mall which is 100% sampled from various sources. These works express different parts of myself; TRANS AM is a brainchild of my memories and heart, I wanted to take people into my mind, a journey back in time. North Point Mall is my political work, a cynical attitude about copyright laws and a mockery of traditional concepts of music-making. It is my personal full-on anti-art work.

6. Since VHS Dreams is now strictly dance music, you are releasing Vaporwave music under a new alias. What’s up with that? Do you already have a new album out?

My new alias that will focus solely on Vaporwave is called Home Visions™. So far I got a few singles and a Mallsoft album out, but I’m working on my first great-scale album which will be faithful to the pure classic-style Vaporwave of muzak sounds and slowed down saxophones. I believe that even after the popularity of this kind of sound has died completely, I’ll still be here making it.


7. I’m sure our readers are well versed in the dark Hellenic metal crafts, so I won’t pester you about Rotting Christ. Do you follow the electronic/experimental music scene in Greece? If so, what are some hidden Greek gems you can recommend?

I don’t really follow any underground scene in Greece, not just because I don’t live there anymore but they never appealed much to me in general anyway. So, I got no freakin’ idea of what’s going on down there anymore. However, if you dig retro-inspired music you could have a look at IamManolis and the label Werkstatt Recordings, for Greeks that make that sort of stuff.

8. Do you miss authentic Greek food now that you are an expat? A nice souvlaki with fries, Greek salad and Fix beer, now that’s livin’!

The only things I ever miss from Greece are proper Summertime and great food. I’m lucky to hail from the countryside and the food around there is still fresh and unprocessed. I am trying to be a vegetarian when abroad and only eat meat when I know on a personal level where the meat comes from and how are said animals treated. That’s not easy to do when abroad, but it’s different back home. Try this: go live there for a year and eat veggies, fresh fish and the occasional meat once a week, and see if you feel a difference for the better after that. Let me know!

9. You are also the founder of Pool House Ltd, a Vaporwave/Chillwave label specializing in tape releases. Why did you want to start a label? What are your goals? And who is your dream artist that you’d love to have on your roster?

I started this label for many reasons. Primarily the idea was born out of a need of me to preserve classic-style vaporwave. You know, the “it’s summer, we’re having fun on a virtual beach with statues and computers” kind of Vaporwave? Another reason is that many labels were scamming customers or not living up to the standards at least, and I thought that a label that is responsible and highly-professional would do good for the scene and also have a future for itself. The label also serves as a vehicle for me to practice my plunderphonics ideal. I would love to have Luxury Elite and 猫 シ Corp., cause their style is the epitome of what Pool House’s aforementioned goal is: to champion classic-style Vaporwave. Don’t forget to bring your marble statue at the beach, huh?


10. Apart from producing music and managing your label, what else occupies your time on a daily basis?

Philosophizing, slacking, listening to music, playing video games and watching documentaries about animals from the Miocene/Pliocene and Cambrian eras (they fascinate me more than dinosaurs).

11. What kind of merchandise would you like to see become more popular in Vaporwave? Sure, everyone loves tapes. What’s the next big thing?

I never understood why the heck CD’s aren’t popular in this movement. Cassettes are vintage indeed but CDs are even more 1990’s, especially if packaged in an early 90’s software CD style. I’d buy that, it’s so Vaporwave!


12. What’s coming in the future for you and your music? Any exciting projects in the works?

A Home Visions™ album is on the works for a long time now. My next release as VHS Dreams is nothing like anyone’s ever seen or done in these parts of the retro-inspired scene yet. I am fully embracing my early House and Techno influences, and will be using tropes that allude back to New Beat and early 90’s dance culture. It’ll also involve illegal sampling from all previous decades, and will deal with themes of the occult. I can’t reveal anything else now, or it’ll spoil the fun.

13. What are your 3 favorite Vaporwave releases of 2016 so far that you would recommend in a heartbeat?

Postfordism and Chill by Bubble Keiki バブル景気 and SENSUAL パラダイス by KARATE KING 空手王 , I am biased over here but it’s obvious, if I didn’t think they’re great I wouldn’t have them released on on my label. Another release that comes to mind is New Utopia – Megalopolis, because while I’m not too much into this dystopian cyberpunk style, this album captured a 2814 feeling. The scene needs that.

14. Where do you see Vaporwave as a genre and movement heading next? Have we escaped the mainstream perception that it is a joke genre that’s only about slowing down Diana Ross tracks? Do you feel Vaporwave has gained at least some undeniable validity as a legitimate, full-fledged electronic music genre?

I don’t see the problem in something being a joke. I recently said on Ken Synthrock’s “Deep Web” podcast that you can be serious about having fun, you don’t have to be neither only serious nor only having fun. For me satire and parody are very legitimate forces in the art world, if not the most legitimate ones currently. Our uptight world needs it now more than ever and Vaporwave is a direct product of that need for absurdity and fun. So that’s my idea; having fun is a serious matter for me.

15. Finally, give me a Vaporwave album idea I can steal and make big bucks from. There’s Vaporwave about computers, about offices, about lounging on your yacht sipping a cocktail, there’s even Vaporwave about cosmic journeys and Vaporwave about forests and waterfalls. What concept should be exploited next?

I got an idea but I won’t tell you, cause if I do it’ll be you that makes the big bucks and not me!

16. Thanks a lot for hanging out at TZEEEAC HQ and I wish you best of luck in all your future projects!

17. Thank you for having me, I enjoyed chatting to you. ‘Till next time!





Disconscious – Hologram Plaza (2013)


Look, I hate the mall. All the noise, the mashed-up voices and blaring music coming in out of hundreds of different speakers at various volumes, not to mention the crowdedness, everything makes me physically ill and whenever I need to get to the mall to buy whatever, I try to spend as little time as possible inside. I  go in, rush to whatever store I need, pick up my thing then get the hell out before I start feeling inclined to vomit.

However, mallsoft (a subgenre of vaporwave focusing on –  you guessed it, the mall) can feel pretty alright at times. Hologram Plaza by Disconscious is one of the quintessential mallsoft albums of our decade. To me, listening to this album feels like dreaming of being lost inside a gigantic deserted mall, aimlessly wondering around the shops and going up and down the escalators, while warped pop music and drowsy muzak ooze all around me. It’s pretty chill and laid-back, with some really cool jazz and easy-listening sampling, but you can’t shake the feeling that something is not quite right in your dream. Recommended for lonely nights in the executive tower, bare feet, loose tie and drinking a bottle of bubbly.

VHSテープリワインダー – Together United (2014)


VHSテープリワインダー (VHS Tape Rewinder) is the unknown corporation supplying us with a constant stream of smooth jazz vaporwave instrumentals that can turn any boring office setting into a classy joint for rich, extravagant individuals. Relaxed jazz samples, ethereal funky beats, lo-fi sensitivities and stock photos of cityscapes used as cover art – this is what VHSテープリワインダー is all about. Essential listening at your corporate retreat. Call now and book your own fantasy jazz escape!

Cobalt Rabbit – Long Walks and Oceansides (2015)


Lately I’ve been on the lookout for atmospheric ambient music with a cinematic quality to it, music that manages to convey visual images and unknown feelings. Even though posts have been sparse, I’ve been listening to a ton of new music, so much that I even had to make a long list of all the artists and labels that I’d like to check out. An Imgur album full of cover artworks is also waiting for me, so there is a lot of material I can cover. I’ve also been meaning to write about some new, slightly more mainstream music that’s popped up recently. Mustering up the time and motivation is another thing entirely, but hopefully I will slowly get back into the swing of things.

So let’s start off with Cobalt Rabbit and his LP Long Walks and Oceansides, an immersive collection of hazy soundscapes interspersed with dreamy (or slightly nightmarish) movie samples that’s got me quite hooked. Each song seems to weave its own narrative, like a weird, unsettling dream that slowly unravels over the course of each track. The choice of samples is excellent, with a great stand-out in Like Home, which begins with the famous line “Hey, are you a dreamer?” from Richard Linklater’s Waking Life. I really feel like the album’s title and artwork does a great job of conveying its atmosphere, but I wouldn’t really recommend listening to it while walking through the woods or on the oceanside. I’d much rather you listen to the natural sounds of those places. No, this is a perfect album for sleeping. Late at night with all the lights off – this is the time when Long Walks and Oceansides truly shines and it’ll hopefully make  you want to check out some more of Cobalt Rabbit‘s catalogue. This particular LP is hosted on AmbientMusicalGenre, an indie netlabel from Russia that’s chock full of excellent ambient music, but I’ll also link you to CR’s bandcamp page so you can explore some more.



SKΞLΞTON – Holograms (2010)

Holograms cover

SKΞLΞTON is one of the most enigmatic entities in vaporwave and also one of the very first artists to adopt the jazzy, chopped-and-screwed style I love. One could even call it proto-vaporwave. Whatever. All I know is that the music hits me right in the nostalgia and the blurry cover art is spot-on. A weird listen for sure, like a twisted fever dream full of jazz and new-age ambiances cooked up by your fried brain. Put this on in the background and soon enough you will feel like an American businessman in the 80s chilling in the hotel lobby, enjoying a nice whiskey while waiting for the limo to arrive to take you to your expensive golf course.

BBRAINZ – pizza contigo


fuckin’ Pizza Contigo, man!

Here’s some nice funky vaporwave to get you through this bullshit Friday. Guided by my spirit animal, George Costanza, here is my plan for this wonderful Friday, leading up to the weekend:

  • While at work, pretend to be constantly annoyed so as to appear very busy when in fact I’m browsing memes
  • Use two pencils to hammer out a nice jazz drum improv when the boss goes out for a minute
  • Use the executive toilet
  • Order pizza for lunch
  • Get home, strip in my underwear and eat an entire wheel of cheese
  • Later this evening, hit the George Costanza trifecta with a baloney sandwich, TV and… dessert😉

This will be my soundtrack. ayy lmao