Wednesday, 25 March 2015

SUI ZHEN – MEGA DRIVE

Oooo-eeeeee, wow, so, this is supremely pretty. More than that it's scene-conjuring, evocative, heartbreaking, heartwarming, tear-inducing, smile-making – it's 'Mega Drive' by Becky Sui Zhen aka Sui Zhen (aka DJ Susan), a musicmaker and all-round atmosphere creator from Melbourne, Australia.

'Mega Drive' seems to call out from an unplaceable, nonexistent retro-futuristic crevasse deep in the music world – there is something otherworldly about it, a gracious gentle delicacy achieved by the mix of plaintive, unthreatening keyboard-demo beat and the endearing vocals, like insubstantial wisps of clouds making their way across a splashed-orange sunset sky, or like friendly ghosts trying to make contact. The very title is a conjuring of nostalgia: the Sega Mega Drive: symbol of lost youth for a generation torn between the analogue and the digital age.

Synth strings follow the vocal melody somewhat with effortless simplicity, still that beat gently blooping with its semi-tropical snips of sharp percussion, decayed bass rolling itself around the bottom end of the track with a reserved attitude, wobbling slightly like the blurred edges of memories that make you laugh and cry, the whole thing pockmarked with indistinct shouts of "hey!" rising up as if somebody's trying to wake you up from a dream.

The aesthetic Sui Zhen has employed here is one that seeps into your spirit, cradles your sense of self with a forlorn feeling, effuses the reverie of the past from a chasm of abstract memories. It's like… the sense of unutterable longing for childhood and all its beautiful accoutrements, its comfort and its wonder and the sense of time being elongated into a fantasy future as yet undisturbed and waiting to be discovered, happy days of innocence and simplicity. That's how I understand it anyway.




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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

SEIFUKU – NEED U GIRL

This song is just like… Well when I first heard it… It's one of those songs, you know the type: an immediate all-encompassing feeling just seems to emanate effortlessly from the music, each sound playing its part in the effusion of whatever emotion happens to be in the process of being conjured at the time. Just as many musical minds over the centuries, even millennia, have done, this song wrestles listlessly with romance: matters of the heart lie at its core, lovelorn and dreaming.

It's funny you can get all this just from 2-minutes-8-seconds of indistinct music centred around a vague samples from an (internationally) obscure pop song. But that I suppose is where its strengths lie, in the shapes of meaning and intent moving beneath the smooth ambience of the track, like attractive alluring shadows of a mystery crush moving behind a curtain at a high-rise window as you look across from your own apartment… but this is fantasy.

Of course, the title helps in these matters of sonic semantics also; it's called 'NEED U GIRL' and it's by a producer called seifuku.

Founded on a bed of organ-feeling dusty-far-off chords, the heavy muffled thud of expertly placed kicks make up the gentle contours and curves of the track, playing call-and-response with a beautifully simplistic finger click cutting through the soft tide of sound, hi-hats ornamenting it with accented rattle, a brief section of muted bloops intersecting the unending slowdown sample of the chorus from South Korean singer-songwriter Taeyang's 'I Need A Girl'.



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Thursday, 19 March 2015

M/D/G AKA MADEGG – M/D/G EP [初演 • PREMIERE]

Here's a new morsel of music arriving courtesy of a newborn label called raum, an imprint of internationalist Tokyo-based label flau (home of releases by Cuushe, Kidkanevil, Ikebana, and many others). raum's second release is a new side project from 22-year-old Japanese producer Kazumichi Komatsu, aka Madegg, aka (now anyway) M/D/G; his more beat-injected side project first offers itself up to the world in the form of a self-titled EP.

Opening up with the cold and mysterious '?????' it's clear that M/D/G is going to be an interesting journey. Amongst the snowy percussion and raw claps you can hear what sounds like birdsong: perhaps an indication that this track is the portal through which you will leave the real world and enter the world of Kazumichi Komatsu. The moment itself even seems relatively clear, when those naturalistic sounds become a threatening insectoid metallic chattering as gloopsome kicks punctuate the abrasive percussion.

We soon find ourselves in the wonky groove of 'Francis', a spot of humour and darkly French-touch cheekiness in the baseline. A sample of someone catching their breath loops mercilessly as cutlass-cymbals sharpen themselves in the space between the brutally truncated snares. Oscillating crushed synths gradually rise up in the sharp sea of chiming cymbals, sub-bass bloopsplosions aggressive and disarming. The keyword with this one is urgency.

'Wah Fruits' dances like an re-animated corpse, clusters of crackling piano on unending loop; dusty and squiffy to begin with, it soon moves into a shuffling vessel of house, treble-sapped hi-hats metronomic above buzzing feedback and vocal samples chopped like slices of speech bubbles or bitesized portions of a bad dream. Imagine a zombie (re-dead type, not the 28 Days Later variety) trying to make you breakfast to this music. Or trying to wash a car. It's clunky and mechanical, but with undeniable unnerving presence, e.g. the unpredictable order in which the samples appear and overlap, and is at the same time fraught with elegant antique decay.

The sounds in 'Current Work1' at first made me think of someone munching on toast, or a packet of crisps (only Quavers could have that intense level of sturdy apple-bite, gravel-drive crunch), a beat, but an abrasive, entirely damaged one. Swirling sounds swathe your ears like supersonic police sirens, snippets of wah-wah-flavoured noise stolen, sucked up by the static tornado and thrown around. Endless vibraphone chords mark the bristling bridge with its clanking percussion, linking the first section to one underpinned by that crunchy marching sound again, with pitch-shifted vocal samples struggling against the tide of noise towards the end.

A mechanical nightmarish menace marks the intro to 'Scum from Social Design', an otherwise robust techno-flavoured track whose analogue qualities lend themselves to breathing bio-engine sounds on an industrial scale, booming and bouncing with jittering decayed hi-hats and shifting piston scratchings: a complex but ancient and arcane machine from a cyberpunk world. Perhaps as we came to this world through the portal of curiosity (quite literal: look at the title) that is '?????', this machine is the abrupt and efficient ticket back to reality.

As you can see and hear, M/D/G is an ornate, hugely plentiful buffet of melancholy peeling-plaster yet industrial abandoned-building sounds precisely and danceabley ripped to shreds, framed antique mechanics of an unknown future, but it's vital and organic (the EP is built on the concept of "sport in 2100"): it also lives and breathes. And giving life to, putting a soul into a machine, as is well embodied by this music, is a beautiful, painful thing.




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