Monday, January 25, 2021
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Kazumichi Komatsu: Emboss Star

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Artist: Kazumichi Komatsu
Title: Emboss Star
Format: 12" + Download
Label: FLAU
Kazumichi Komatsu has been putting out releases fairly prolifically since about 2012, using the Madegg alias until 2016, then his own name, but this is his first full album release under his own name, which must in some way feel like a peak of a personal musical expression. It certainly feels emotive, but more so it feels like peering into a stranger’s sketchbook, at a variety of different styles, some of them perfected, some of them more prototypical.It’s a collection of ten short, mostly laid back and semi-experimental electronica pieces, almost all of them under three minutes long. Everything is fair game sonically, from acoustic and traditional-sounding plucked instruments to crafting sound out of found sound, samples, and noises. These are layered up into arrangements that are mostly grooves, steady, undramatic and short. It’s chill music, but with something wilfully ‘off’ about it, as typified in tracks like “Skip” with its gentle plucked melody and chopped-up, more urgent-sounding spoken words, or the underlying disquiet in “Come In”. Other tracks substitute gentle piano work as the melody.“Umi Ga Kikoeru”, featuring Dove & Le Makeup, is a really strong curiosity, playing a relatively conventional verse-chorus vocal structure against an interestingly back-to-front arrangement, an experiment in how to construct a pop ballad out of all the wrong sounds and still make it work (just about- it’s likely to be a bit divisive to some audiences). The other fully-fledged song on the album, “Followers” with Cristal Bere, is a touch more conventional in arrangement, piano-led and uniquely English-language, but concentrates less on the vocal hook, a stronger one of which could’ve made this a track with strong crossover potential.“Weight Of Smoke” is notable for its increased tension initially, with an opening that feels like an intro to a much more aggressive, almost EDM album, before dropping quite abruptly into a padded sci-fi soundscape. It’s the exception to the rule in regard to my earlier comment about the tracks being undramatic.At only 27 minutes it’s very compact, practically a mini-album, but it packs a fair bit of musical quality into that small package. Certainly one to try out if you like your chilled out musical experiences to be very off-kilter.

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