Boomkat Product Review:
After being enchanted by Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU LP for RVNG Intl, we play catch up with the Japanese artist’s On The Quakefish album from last year, issued by the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs label who were also behind that mental Lazslo Hortobaygi reissue.
Here, we’re privy to another array of deliquescent electronics and mercurial hooks, framing Ken’s vision of the Japanese nightscape with absorbingly evocative, impressionistic effect. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, on the edge of the Tokyo megatropolis, Ken draws from his surroundings to paint immersive scenes in succinct, pointillist dashes and vaporous strokes that dissolve into acres of enigmatic, negative space.
Quite boldly, Ken is unafraid to embrace sounds perhaps unfamiliar to the classic Japanese records we’ve heard, or the swell of ambient/new age reissues from that region. He freely vacillates these stranger, abstract sounds with more conventional gestures in a way that adroitly brings his subject - the Japanese night - to life in a way that doesn’t simply soothe the listener, but keeps their ears intrigued, moving around the sound sphere attempting to locate their possible sources.
This effect relates to the Zen tradition of Satori, “imagining circumstances and atmospheres that are so silent, one can hear the sounds of the wind and water streaming”. For us this effect also recalls the studied audness of Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species, as much as Luc Ferrari’s poetic concrète scapes, or a very canny first person computer game or avant-garde film soundtrack; exactly the kind of stuff to bed down with during long, dark winter nights over here.