Words by Holo – intervapeur connoisseur and label head of Hollow Point One
To mark the beginning of this brand new series, in which I plan on taking an in depth look into the careers of certain artists within the scene that was built around DREAM and the labels associated with it, I will be going in depth into the individual discography of one of DREAM pharaoh HKE’s (or David Russo’s) most celebrated monikers, Subaeris – an alias in which manages to function as a separate artist in his own right, distinct from his other work.
The Subaeris project, through its many different iterations, has always kept a clean presentation – a rhythmic counterpart to the more ambient-driven aliases that HKE kept alive. Themes that are already widely explored within the Cyberpunk genre like love and futuristic cities are juxtaposed with an almost intervapeur character: meditation, transcendence, introspection, etc.
The project started off in early 2012, where we saw the release of ‘Subaeris’ and ‘Kegare’, two albums with a heavy UK garage influence, even Burial-esque at points. But despite the fact that the production takes some cues from the UK electronic music scene, it manages to keep a futuristic edge, at times even dark. This motif is maintained through 2013 and part of 2014, with ‘In Tokyo 2’, which while still developing from the future garage sound, structures its tracks similarly to future albums in its conceptual feel. For example, a purely ambient long-form release entitled ‘Shinjuku Underground – Meditation Chamber System Overload’; and ‘Europa’, a concept album which shines a light on a few European capital cities, dedicating a track to each.
This earlier side of Subaeris eventually gets overshadowed by what the artist defines as ‘the best representation of dream music’ with what is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums released on Dream Catalogue, ‘New Tokyo Blue Mood’ in 2014 as DREAM_8. Here we can hear a much more refined sound, taking some elements from trap production, and an early showcase of the mindset in line with where Dream Catalogue eventually would arrive in the ‘Dream Era’.
Also to note, the little known ‘Existence’ EP was released through Bandcamp net label White Colours around this time, and functions as an extension of the former album. This sound would only take a step back in the next release, ‘The City In Rain’, which features a single ambient track just short of a full hour in length marked by rain and city sounds which the artist utilised widely in his work during this time, more-so outside of the Subaeris alias.
With the following two releases, still in 2014, we go back to the clean and sharp production that made its debut on the ‘New Tokyo Blue Mood’ album, with ‘Cycle’ and ‘Dreams Love Chaos City’, released on Dream Catalogue and Crystaltone respectively. These two albums work as a continuation from what had been started previously, with ‘Cycle’ taking a more introspective route with its theme, and ‘Dreams Love Chaos City’ breaking ground for the foundations of what was to come in regards to cyberpunk art and music in this time, and the classic Dream Catalogue aesthetic.
The year 2015 saw the release of an album and an EP, a comparatively slow year seeing as 2014 featured five albums and one EP. But don’t be mistaken, the sheer power in ‘Blue Tokyo EP’ makes it feel like a full album, definitely one to keep an eye out for. Along with it came a sequel of the first Subaeris album on Dream Catalogue, ‘New Tokyo Blue Mood 2’, released independently rather than via the label.
The following year, ‘Transcendent God’ dropped on Nirvana Port with a much more cinematic sound and a throwback to the long-form ambient tracks in ‘Shinjuku Underground’ with the longform closer piece ‘Prelude To Transcendence’. This turned out to be the last full Subaeris album to date, only followed by an EP on the PYRAMIDS label (‘ON Global Tableau 44’), a split with Kagami Smile on TEKRES (‘Asleep / Awake’) and a self-released double single (‘The Planet Is In Love’).
Overall, Subaeris is one of the most impressive projects to come out of the early DREAM scene (and even before it existed). Not only is the music very accessible to new listeners, but it has cemented its place as a classic in the minds of many listeners around the world, be it Dream Catalogue fans, vaporwave nerds or club-goers.