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Boomkat Product Review:
Completely singular work here, linking fading Japanese cultural customs with field recordings and Belgian instrumental performance. There's little else we've heard quite like it.
Sound artist Sugai Ken and Edições CN boss Lieven Martens met five years ago in Tokyo, where they connected over a mutual respect for each others' work. More recently, Sugai sent Martens recordings out of the blue that he'd made of traditional musical performances in Tokyo, Toyama, Kanagawa, Kyoto and Tottori. He noted that due to Japan's declining birth rate, the art form was becoming extinct, giving the recordings an added resonance. Martens responded to the sounds by adding new elements from his world: percussion and strings from local Belgian musicians Jeroen Stevens and Roman Hiele and corresponding field recordings.
The result is peculiar and almost ghostly, like chopped and pasted pieces of a movie without the visual accompaniment. The sounds of the original recordings and Martens' contributions are blurred into one another, so it's never completely obvious where one element begins and where another ends. Processing is minimal, but effective, and it's a testament to both artists experience that they're able to do something so subtle and frankly so original. The title "KAGIROI" means heat haze, and that's an apt descriptor.