Wednesday 14 July 2021

Finds I've Found

It's a wonder what you can do when you finally get around to tidying up. After looking over some of my notes and deciding 'This is getting silly, time to trim some of this down' I've spent the last couple of days gettign around to various albums and other media I've had on the list for a while. It's been very varied too - checking out the rest of Sugar Plant's work - a kind of indie shoegazy downtempo that I just adore for starters, to the more upbeat and (probably unintentionally) slightly vaporwave sounds of the later works of Hiroshi Yoshimura.

While neither of those are on official streamers sadly, I have been pleasantly surprised at the availability of some things on there - serving as a reminder to always check out BC even if it seems unlikely. Starting with another compilation find of mine with Calm who makes exactly the kind of tunes you'd expect given the name. Starting with one of the original tracks from 1998's Shadow Of The Earth - a slightly jazzy cut of late 90's downtempo. It feels a little reductive to call it just that, but it's cut from the same cloth as so many other 90's downtempo albums - but that's not intended as a slight against it, as long time readers will know it's a style I've got a lot of time for and can count many albums in my all time favourites that fall into that category. I've been enjoying my time with it, though I feel that this one is perhaps a little long in the tooth at a hefty 7 minutes.

There are a whole load of bonus tracks included on the BC release, including the one that was on the compilation that pointed me towards Calm in the first place - the Bossa Nova Sitting On The Beach. I've actually picked the track that comes before it, the potentially confusingly named Running On The Sand, which I assumed would be a demo version of the above at first glance (It kind of is in parts, but it was actually released as a single before the album!). I think I may like it a little more than the above one - the previous mix could feel a little generic in parts and despite being longer I feel like this one mixes up the variation a lot more too. It's got a slightly techy feel that's refreshing, but still admittedly very late 90's in execution in a way that I personally find really charming but that could just be my bias for this era of sound showing. One last thing before I forget too - there's also a Drum & Bass reworking of it on Calm's follow up album from 2001 too that's pretty great as well.

Another slightly obscure one to round out, a solitary release from an artist called Sora from label called simply Plop. It's another one I was passingly aware of again thanks to compilations, and one of the albums that I had just assumed would be tricky to get legit as mentioned at the top. It isn't the case though, thanks to a re-press from the folks at WRWTFWW Records, who have saved my bacon more than once.

Anyway, onto the album itself - its another one that is supremely up my alley in terms of sound, a real interesting mix of contrasting styles - delicate, almost minimal ambient with glitchy trimmings to highlight and little jazzy touches here and there to boot. It's been a real treat to dive into as it reminds me a whole lot of some of the stuff Mitsuto Suzuki put out for his solo work (who also gets glitchy form time to time, but that track isn't the best demo of that), as well as the the works of Kensuke Ushio, both the soundtrack work he does under his own name but especially the work he's done under the Agraph alias too. The featured track Revans does an excellent job of showing this off, the first couple of minutes are gorgeous and I just love those skippy stop-start vocal samples dropped in.

I need to properly spend a bit more time with this one, but it's a style I can really get into at times - tracks like Etude:Diagonal continue to play with those cut up snippets of vocals in a really fun way, but I don't think it's something I could just have on in the background - it almost demands to be actively listened to in order to pick out the intricacies. The album is at its best I feel when it merges all these styles together as on Traces - the smooth piano of the opening merges really nicely with the more melodic vocal cuts on show here, and the small jazzy flourishes here and there keep it feeling fresh, my favourite being the really bright sounding skips introduced around the 1:20 mark. Certainly one of the more accessible and less experimental tracks on the album along with Revans, so if you go checking out the full thing be prepared for things to get a little more out there. An interesting curio for sure and one I can see myself picking up sometime soon.

That's all for this time, as I mentioned at the start it's been a pretty productive week for clearing stuff off my 'to listen' lists, I just wish more of it were available on legit streamers. Still, I could always knock up another mixtape thing with them sometime soon as a kind of workaround, and I'm content to at least link to unofficial ones in the text like I have done here in the meantime. I'm a little busier this week so things may be a little quieter, but I'll be sure to be back as soon as I can. Until then, as always - Stay safe and enjoy the music.


No comments: