Friday 31 July 2020


Wassily Kandinsky - Fragile (1931)

Recently I've been chasing a specific sound, you can hear the partial results of this on the High Tech Dreams mix I put together and ever since then I've been after similar sounding stuff, and there's not a 100% perfect way to describe it. It's a special kind of delicate electronic that I know when I hear but as far as I know doesn't have a specific genre name, and probably won't because of how broad my choices are. So I'm going to share a few more recent additions here today in the hope that someone could maybe enlighten me to more similar, or at the very least you find something that you like as well.

Rei Harakami is an absolute must here, after all it's his productions that led me down this path in the first place. It's Harakami's trademark sound that for me defines this kind of electronic I'm talking about, others I put in that category don't have to match his style 100% mind you, but the overall feeling is the same. Harakami's works is full of gorgeous sounds, lush synths and is frankly just a joy to listen to. I'd hesitate to call it 'ambient' in the purest sense of the word but much like ambient these kind of tracks are perfect for both background play and active listening; listening the the tracks from Lust on speakers and headphones especially are very different experiences, I love the little panning tricks that Harakami does throughout as the sounds effortlessly dance back and forth. I have a love-hate relationship with the ending of this track, it's abrupt in a sense, but the way it just gracefully slides away is also a perfect encapsulation of Harakami's methodology.

Cornelius also occasionally hits this button for me. Point is usually an upbeat electronic-acoustic jam, if you're familiar with Cornelius' debut Fantasma then you already have some kind of idea. But nestled in the middle of the tracklist is this more sedate piece, the acoustic-electric combo is still very much there, but this time with a much more downtempo energy. It's got that DIY electronic sound that I love so much, the kind where it sounds like it could have been recorded in someone's bedroom with just a guitar and a drum machine; think The Knife's self-titled debut album or Erlend Øye's Unrest for similar (Øye's band also remixed Drop from this album, which has a similar vibe too!). Tone Twilight Zone takes a little while to get going but that only further works in favour of the whole atmosphere its going for.

Visiting Susumu Yokota next, another extremely prolific name in Japan's electronic music world. Yokota made a ton of house and techno but switched to almost purely ambient in the later 2000's. 1999/2000's Sakura is when this shift begins to happen (at least in my experience of his discography, I'm not an expert!), it opens with a beautiful ambient pieces and tracks with beats are rare. It's a lovely listen, a little different from the crisp & clean sounds of the last two examples I posted, on several tracks there is this slightly imperfect feel, with some tracks (this one included) even sounding like the synth pads clip a little. That doesn't exclude it from the above mentioned criteria though, while lacking that 'high tech' sound it still evokes the same feelings. it's almost the Boards Of Canada to the other examples listed, much more tactile and handmade than the cool flow of Harakami's work.

Going to take a little turn here, some things I wanted to talk about for a while but aren't available on the usual streaming we use. I don't really like to use YT embeds but sometimes its necessary, so I thought I'd balance it out with the above. Anyway, I'd recently got into some soundtrack work from Kensuke Ushio and after falling for the style he was employing something fierce I was left wanting more. Colour me embarrassed when I didn't do even a basic search to find out that he already had multiple albums of similar stuff under his 'Agraph' alias. I dived right in with the first album under that alias: A Day, Phases and it was exactly what I wanted. It's again slightly different from the above, this is by far the fastest track we'll have covered so far today for one. Despite it's age there was still plenty of what I liked about his solo work to get stuck into, and you can even hear the glitchy skips that come up in said solo work which I why I liked it in the first place. You all know I'm a sucker for juxtapositions in sound and this ticks that box for me. I think his work is really interesting so expect him to come up a couple more times in the near future.

And finally, something that's been swimming in my head for a couple of months now, I've been holding out hope for it to appear on streaming or other platforms but its taking it's sweet time, so apologies again in advance for the YT embed. We're taking a trip back to 1986 for an ambient album fittingly called Soundscape 1: Surround. Hiroshi Yoshimura is a fairly big name in the ambient world, and it's taken me an embarrassingly long time to actually look into his works, especially for someone who claims to be very into the genre. When I finally did though, I'm glad I picked this album, as the opening track immediately made its way into this category from the first bars. The main motif is simply lovely and it very much matches the aquatic theme of the cover too. It may sound a little dated and 'New Age'-y now, but it is almost 35 years old after all. I've been drip feeding myself his works to get the most out of them, but I've let myself play this album out quite a few times while I'm at 'work' and it's been very enjoyable indeed. Check out the whole thing if this is up your alley.

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