Boomkat Product Review:
Startling side of pelting drum machines and psychedelic noise from Japanese synth/punk pioneer Hiromi Moritani a.k.a. Phew; an avant-garde vocalist who started out in art-punk unit Aunt Sally and has since collaborated with everyone from Ryuinchi Sakamoto to Can, DAF and Bill Laswell during an illustrious career.
Light Sleep packs the kind of febrile energy and thrust that you might expect from a young, new artist enthralled with the possibilities of vintage hardware. Which makes it all the more remarkable that it arrives well over 30 years into Phew’s far flung catalogue, at a time when you might expect them to be exploring lounge jazz or new age electronics. But scan back thru her oeuvre and you’ll hear that Phew’s already done all of that, mostly in her early years, and now it’s clearly her time to cut loose.
Succinctly and accurately summed by her label as “a more animated Nico singing (in Japanese) for early Suicide”, Phew’s home recordings - recorded and edited in Tokyo, 2014 - work right on the biting point with tungsten tipped drum machines piercing thru banking walls of bittersweet noise. Establishing its trajectory in New World, she unleashes a ruthless, breakneck rush of excoriating rhythm and urgent yelps in CQ Tokyo, calving away to reveal plangent horror score drones in Mata Aimasho.
She returns to jabbing drum machine pointillism pitted against her own random exclamations like starker John Bender in Usui Kuki, while the Suicide-meets-Nico analogy really comes into play on Echo and Antenna sprawls out in cosmic noise like some Astral Social Club or Ashtray Navigations invocation harnessed and kerned by Craig Leon.
Stonking stuff. Don’t sleep!