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.
- The M/D/G EP is released 23rd March via flau imprint, raum, on very limited 12" run of 250. Pre-order here.