Saturday 5 March 2022

The Results Are In

It's that time again - here's my BC Friday roundup for March. A slightly weird one this time (but they all are to an extent), no massive diversions like the past though. Slightly disheartened by the announcement they did re: the merger with Epic Games because I think they are a bit of a shitty corporation first and foremost, but also because I worry about corporate intrusion into what was one of the best independent music platforms out there, historically things have a nasty habit of turning sour when acquisition happens. But I'm not going to let that overshadow the post too much, I thought it deserved a mention though. Let's take a look inside my digital bag then shall we?
Hasui Kawase - Tsuchizaki, Akita (1928)

I actually remembered to check my email the day of the Friday this time around, though there weren't as many new release notifications as there have been in previous months, it still highlighted some interesting stuff. Enter LNS - I picked up her entire discography a couple months back and I've been keeping an eye out ever since for more. She dropped a solitary single in Misiats, the title track from the EP of the same name that should be coming out later this year on Counter 99 - though according to LNS herself it was recorded a couple of years ago. If you caught any LNS on my previous posts you sort of know what to expect going into this one, a culmination of her influences - the bandcamp page is tagged with Techno, IDM, Electro and Ambient, each of which you can hear show it's influence throughout parts of this single. It's based around a Ukrainian folk song "Oy, ty misyatsyu / Ой, ти місяцю", I recommend checking out the Bandcamp page as LNS goes into more detail and shares more of her personal experience. All proceeds for this release go to the World Central Kitchen charity.

Other than that, I picked up a ton of Italo Disco records, I've been following the Goody Music bandcamp for a while now - it's a publishing label that's doing great work in not only re-releasing a ton of vintage Italo records but also remastering them too. My favourites have been the ones under the Mr. Disc sublabel - home to stone cold classics such as Charlie's Spacer Woman. It's a real treasure trove of grooves, if you're looking to begin exploring the world yourself, Mr. Disc have helpfully put togetehr a couple of compilations of Obscure Tracks to help you along. They're a great starting point in all honesty, it took me a long time to really branch out into Italo just becuase there is so much of it (and some of it is of questionable quality to boot). Look no further than track 1 of this compilation to set you on the path, a slightly later addition than any previous Italo I've covered, Notte Divina was originally released in 1990, but it's still full of my favourite elements of Italo. Catchy melodies and Piano stabs aplenty in this one, this is an instrumental version of the track which really brings all of that to the forefront too.

I mentioned they do a lot of re-issuing and remastering as well, a lot of times on re-releases they'll also include some more modern mixes in addition to the originals. These mixes are usually pretty good in their own right, they don't re-tool the formula of the original too much or needlessly try to shoehorn it into another genre. A lot of the time it's pretty much the original track with a fresh coat of paint and some subtle switch ups to keep the variety going. Such is the case on the Heritage mix of Dharma's Plastic Doll - given a slightly more House-y feel and extended out a minute longer than the original. It's a nice take on it, I feel like it'd be very easy to go too 'Nu-disco' with these mixes, but each one I've heard so far has been fairly faithful. It's a great thing they're doing with the labels to make these old records more readily available again, the market for some of them on vinyl has been ridiculously inflated so it's nice to be able to get hold of them legitimately in some form, even if it is only digital.

And finally, as promised on my last post - I did in fact get some Rei Harakami and Susumu Yokota. For Harakami I actually went backwards from the one I posted - I've had a partial copy of Opa*q for years that I can't even remember how I picked up but suffice to say it wasn't the best quality, so I figured it was high time to put that right. While my favourite is still [Lust], Opa*q is still a great place to start when it comes to Harakami's work - it's his second album so the sounds are already beginning to get more refined and you can in fact hear bits of what would become his later works on here too. There's plenty of good tracks to choose from, but to perfectly summarise his style, you can do no better than 300ml (Milk).

Dig out your headphones for the intro, it kicks off with a left-right pan of what would become that trademark electronic piano sound - and from there it only goes from strength to strength. A quality piece of that late 90's - early 00's 'downtempo' kind of sound, though a little bit more techy sounding than most examples I've posted of that in the past. Harakami's work is also a little bit more... quirky than that too, these tracks are full of fun, almost circuit bent melodies. If you're like me and really dig the style of tracks like this, and the more downtempo Poof, the immediately set sail for his later works, as that would become the staple of his works.

For Yokota's entry, I decided to go with one of the more Harakami-esque bits from Love Or Die - A Song Produced While Floating Alone On Christmas Day is of that similar school, with a very IDM style melodic streak to it. The intro is absolutely lovely, but in true Yokota fashion, it's not long before some surprisingly heavy kicks come into the mix, evoking his House & Techno roots. Don't let that dissuade you though, when the main melody comes back into the mix around the minute mark it fast made it's way onto my favourites list. A very cozy addition to the slightly eclectic tracklist.

As I mentioned before the Discogs page for this one is very misleading, Yokota explores a ton of genres across the runtime of Love Or Die, from the House of the track in question, to Trip Hop on the final track The Destiny For The Little Bird Trapped Inside A Small Cage For Life, to a whole Drum & Bass styled piece in The Scream Of A Sage Who Lost Freedom And Love Taken For Granted Before. And yet the whole thing still feels very cohesive, on paper it might sound a bit all over the place but in practice that's not the case. Another interesting addition to the man's very expansive release catalogue, one that you'll no doubt hear more about as I continue to work my way through it.

And that'll be all for today, a slightly extended one this time, but it's been a while since I wrote so it was nice to get all stretched out again. I even managed to line up a couple more for next month's Friday as well, with it being a longer month as well it shouldn't be as much of a scramble this time. I've got my eye on a couple of other things that I might cover in the meantime as well so I should be back before long - hope you've found some things to pique your interest here today and as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


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