Tape Review: ll nøthing ll’s ‘Higeki’

ll nøthing ll

Higeki

(Houdini Mansions)

Originally released digitally late 2018, the mad doctors over at Houdini Mansions have taken ll nøthing ll’s Higeki EP and shocked new life into the project, with cassette (see above) and minidisc releases, all-new original artwork, and four remixes courtesy of desert sand feels warm at night, Bakmahn, Tupperwave, and S\/\/4Nk H3LL, resulting in the deluxe, definitive edition of one of the more intriguing and tasteful vaporwave projects in recent memory.

On a base level, it can be easy to dismiss the tracks Higeki as just something you’d find on the “beats to relax/study to” stream. It’s unassuming and can serve that function, but this subtlety is in service to its appeal once you peel back the layers. Higeki translates to “tragedy”, and the three tracks (“疼痛”, “損失”, and “神聖”) translate to “pain”, “loss”, and “sacred” respectively. These three tracks are deeply rooted in a quiet hopelessness, representing a cry for help that can’t cry loud enough to be heard, whether out of fear, shame, or a multitude of other reasons. In some ways, it’s a near peerless representation of sinking into invisible depression. Higeki is, simply put, the atmosphere that something is wrong that people choose not to read, painted with horns and keys all different shades of blue.

The new bonus remixes are just that: bonuses. Higeki’s three core tracks are so bonded to each other, their shared tone, and ll nøthing ll’s original vision that they predictably lose some of their emotional gravitas. That’s not to say that they’re a waste though: each one is interesting in its own right. The standout has to be Bakmahn’s take on “損失”, which he re-imagines as an uptempo dance tune: a far departure from the softly weeping downtempo vaportrap original.

While vaporwave is all but rare these days, vaporwave with true artistic intent is another story. Higeki doesn’t suffer this problem. In a world where snatching someone else’s sample and doing as little as possible to it for quick attention is somewhat of a trend, it thrives on being difficult to immediately grasp and demands that you give it your attention in order to reap the rewards. They’re worth it, as this is a lovely, and yes, tragic set of tunes made with love.

 

Favorite track: “損失”

 

Rating: Recommended

 

You can purchase ll nøthing ll’s Higeki here.

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