Boomkat Product Review:
Having made an almost perfect musical statement with 2000's 'Sakura', Susumu Yokota is often accused of not living up to that album's sprawling scope and diffused ambience. Marking his 25th album (25!) Yokota has decided to answer those critics with a record that combines the detached aura of 'Grinning Cat' with the directness of his more truculent offerings, claiming it to be his "masterpiece". Built around hordes of classical samples (Puccini, Debussy, Mahler and Beethoven amongst them) 'Symbol' is a grand document that raises two pertinent questions; is it pretentious and is it any cop? The answers; probably and certainly. Opening with 'Long Long Silk Bridge' it's easy to stare cynically at the crate load of Juniper scented strings Yokota conjures up, dipping in and out as over-wrought choirs take to the stage with bare floorboard beats underfoot, but somehow it all works wonderfully. Yokota is barely finished on this prologue epic before he sends the listener into another huge arrangement ('Purple Rose Minuet') that sets harpsichords against some eerily echoing Japanese vocals, again to startling effect. Although his panache for bloody stupid song titles pervades throughout ("The Plateau Which the Zephyr of Flora Occupies"/"Fairy Dance of Twinkle and Shadow"), you get the feeling it's not as po-faced as you are first led to believe with a playful spirit evident on most tracks. Closing with the effeminacy of 'Music from the Lake Surface', 'Symbol' is undoubtedly overblown but in Yokota's affable hands it becomes an indulgent treat. Lovely.