Boomkat Product Review:
Tokyo-based Yamaneko pulls from hard dance and euphoric trance on 'Escape Artists Never Die', sculpting giddy, beatless soundscapes that harmonize nicely with gear from Lorenzo Senni, Dark0, Himera and DJ Lostboi.
It's hard to believe it's been almost a decade since Yamaneko released his debut 'Pixel Wave Embrace' on Local Action. Since then he's commented on ambient music's wellness craze with his tongue-in-cheek 'Spa Commissions' albums and looked to big-room trance on 2019's ace 'Spirals Heaven Wide'. 'Escape Artists Never Die' is billed as a "spiritual successor" to that record, picking up where it left off and stripping the rousing thud from music that lives and dies with a kick drum. Yamaneko's not attempting to remake hard dance, but rather use it in the same way Japanese composers did when they recontextualised club sounds in videogame soundtracks back in the mid-90s.
He sweeps the snare rushes and frenetic kicks to one side on 'Kitana', leaving huge arpeggios, stabs and punctuating snaps. The dancefloor is more distant on 'Pharma Ghosts', but there's still a faint trace in the MDMA-augmented reversed sequences and gloopy pads. It's more upfront on 'Getting Home Safely', where Yamaneko dispenses with raw ambience, glueing a downtempo Dutch thud to jerky supersaw synths and rubbery bass, a technique he uses on the title track, a shivering, piano-led inverted banger that hits the brief right between the eyes.