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- Earth Calling by Fumio Kosakai
9/10 Mike Staff review, 30 January 2014
Fumio Kosakai has been involved in all sorts of projects including Incapacitants and Tangerine Dream Syndicate, but not so many people know about his solo work. This reissue retrieves a cassette, of which only around 30 copies were originally made, and gives it the VIP treatment on a lovely thick LP with insert in Japanese and English and a sleeve screenprinted by none other than six-string wizard Michael Flower, in an edition that's sure to fly off the shelves.
On the record are two distinct sides of synth meditations, with the A side being inspired by Hawkwind and the B side by Terry Riley's 'A Rainbow In Curved Air'. As you would expect then, the A side is the exploratory, playful one, performed with a self-made transmitter, mini-keyboard, synthesizer, cassette tapes with environmental sounds recorded and a delay-like effect. It opens with some gentle, minimal, alien-like landscapes with soft, earthy drones and weird otherworldly echoed sounds which twitch and twang and bleep weirdly, before the second piece on the side 'Drive To Universe' is like a sinister vessel gliding through deep space with swooshing drones galore, some muddy and distant like the constant whirring of motors, some more trebly and metallic. It's quite simply done but incredibly immersive and evocative.
The B side in contrast is still droney but this time relies on mysterious foggy layers of hums and beeps which flicker in hypnotic patterns, rhythmic drones like all the alarms in an enormous building going off at once. This soon recedes into a blurred, echoing version of itself though, more like a dream someone would have if they were asleep in a building and all the alarms went off at once but didn't wake them up. That's pretty much what it sounds like. It does send you into a bit of a daze and then powers down really abruptly at the end like you're being jolted out of that dream state, which I like a lot. It's almost like it's emphasising the silence after the performance as a tangible "thing" in its own right, leaving the listener hanging in mid-air where they were once supported by clouds of droning synth.
9/10 Dan John Customer review, 8th March 2014
Got to say Mike is spot on with his review on this great LP - the A side does sound alien, distant, spacey and generally creepy. It's really evocative and interesting and the way both tracks suddenly stop leaves you suspended - it reminds me of how I felt at the end of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It takes a short while to come back to your senses and leave the immersion you were experiencing and it does this better than any other music that I personally can think of. The dark-ambient-whatever aesthetic has clearly been well explored since, but this is still worth a serious look, as it's better than a lot of the stuff being churned out today. Side B is musically a bit less interesting to me. It's obviously very much in debt to minimalism, but I don't think the piece adds much more that I haven't already heard. It's interesting to hear Fumio's take on it though and it is a good piece, but I think I'll be revisiting Side A a lot more. As Mike says, the ending is very abrupt and works really well after you've settled into the drone and started to focus on the small changes. It's well presented in a nice sleeve and the pressing quality seems excellent, I really like this LP, pick up a copy.
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