Boomkat Product Review:
Cult DJ/producer Wata Igarashi's long-awaited debut album is a sci-fi tinged, psychedelic headmelt that takes its cues from Drexciya, Jeff Mills and Steve Reich, spiraling from foot-stomping 4/4 into xenharmonic, Fourth World oddness. RIYL Donato Dozzy, Don't DJ, Rrose.
There aren't many myths with the enduring allure of the "hollow Earth", the idea that beneath the crust lies a hidden kingdom inhabited by an advanced race of demi-gods. Igarashi takes his concept from the legend of Agartha, a land that was perhaps designed by alien colonists millennia ago and fascinated German occultists in the early 20th Century. In Igarashi's hands, Agartha is a way for him to exercise his most free-flowing ideas, released from the dancefloor utilitarianism of techno and his day job writing music for TV and adverts. He imagined the tracks as cues for an imaginary movie about the mythical kingdom, weaving his wiry influences into a glittering, narrative-driven tapestry. And if you're sensing a Drexciyan undercurrent here, it's entirely intentional - in considering the album format, Igarashi has clearly gone back to the techno full-lengths that actually last, and it's records like 'Neptune's Lair', 'Grava 4' and Jeff Mills' hyper-conceptual 'Metropolis' that cast the longest shadow on 'Agartha'.
That's not to say that the album is stylistically lashed to history either - Igarashi's been developing his vortex-like, psychedelic brand of techno for years, and it's still present on 'Agartha' even though it's been given more of a cinematic thrust. While gaseous, beatless tracks like 'Abyss I' and the Reichian, kosmische slow-burner 'Floating Against Time' enhance Igarashi's narrative, they inevitably couch more upfront tracks like the serpentine, electroid 'Searching' and Jon Hassell-inspired 'Subterranean Life'. And on the lengthy 'Burning', Igarashi mashes his influences into one extended track, touching Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze's most celestial beatmusic. 'Agartha' meanwhile is slowed to a crawl, all glacial hand drums and peculiar arpeggiated modular bleeps. Very strong stuff!