One of Japan’s most riveting artists follows that KAKUHAN mindmelt from last year (our number 5 album, 2022) with an engrossing suite of wild field recordings and polymetric percussion featuring a whole raft of additional players weaving drums, wind and brass instruments, cello and electronics into a bewildering Acousmatic matrix. Highly recommended listening if you’re into Marginal Consort, Beatrice Dillon, Will Guthrie, Mark Fell, François Bayle.
Having made his mark on these pages over the last few years with appearances as part of Japan’s cult entities Goat and YPY, Koshiro Hino’s turn last year as KAKUHAN took things to a whole other level with an album that felt like some alchemical mix of elements borrowed from Autechre, Photek, Arthur Russell and Mica Levi - a complete stylistic futureshock that worked as well in the club as it did fuelling extended flights of the imagination.
For 2023, Hino takes us into a completely different headspace, assembling a cast of 11 players - the mighty Joe Talia and KAKUHAN’s other half Yuki Nakagawa among them - for a suite of untamed field recordings, clanging percussion, brass and synthesis that are about as far removed from the diaristic ambient de jour as you could possibly imagine. Instead, the ensemble conjure vibrant sound ecologies teeming with detail, mirroring the natural world and communal traditions to form shapeshifting, organismic soundworlds.
‘Geist II’ was written for 20 speakers, referencing François Bayle’s acousmatic music and David Tudor’s electro-acoustic environments. It paints a richly detailed scene of a nocturnal rainforest, replete with avian hoots and a skin-crawling patina of insectoid chatter that moves around the soundfield, stealthily growing in density with a more “musical” presence of super low end drone and drums converging form the peripheries to a ritualistic climax. In the second part, focus shifts to remarkably pure percussion-like tropical rain, invaded by swarms of scuttling and winged invertebrates that give way to a water music-like polymetric slosh, resolving to ringing tones and more mellifluous gestures that hark back to GRM’s most poetic, romantic urges.
It's a deeply psychedelic experience that harmonises tiny electronic fluctuations with bird calls and scraped, resonant drones that phase in-and-out of the mix. It's sound you can practically chew, and another crucial despatch from the contemporary Japanese avant-garde.