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Boomkat Product Review:
Ent is a solo project from Nagasaki resident Atsuhi Horie, best known in his native Japan as frontman for indie rock band Straightener. Horie spent three years putting together this album for his side-project, drawing influence from electronic pop music, the like of which you'd associate with Morr Music's classic output. While much of the laptop songcraft we've heard emanating from Japan lately has been geared towards microbeats and whispery Remote Viewer-isms (as heard on the recent output from labels like Someone Good and Flau), Ent is a more full-blooded project, relying far more emphatically on traditional songwriting values, with great guitar parts and bursts of live drumming coming into play throughout the album. Perhaps one comparison that might occasionally spring to mind would be Cornelius; the harmonies, quick-witted, complex drum editing and adherence to rock formulae over the course of a song like 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' makes a decent case for this, but Horie's not one to sit still for too long, and elsewhere you encounter emphatically hard-rocking, crunching nu-gaze, as on the marvellous 'Silver Moment', whose beefed-up Slowdive routines stand at the summit of this album's pop achievements. The balance of the material on Welcome Stranger is well proportioned and suitably dynamic across the tracklist, switching between elaborately produced introspective moments and all-out extroversion, all of which is capped off by a closing triumvirate of remixes: first up is Kettel's 'Sitcom Remix' of 'Silver Moment' (which does sound a bit like it could be an alternate theme tune to Scrubs, or something), followed by an epic, glitched up, post-rocking Near The Parenthesis remix of ace album opener 'No Tone'. Finally, Type Records' Helios works his magic over 'Farewell Dear Stranger', coaxing a predictably luxurious electronica sound world out of the original.