Monday, June 22, 2009

Akatombo - Unconfirmed Reports (Hand-Held Recordings CD/DVD-R)

The soundtrack to the accompanying visuals provided on the DVD-R, this disc got sent to me from Paul T. Kirk, a Scottish ex-pat now living in Japan and working under the Akatombo moniker. Though his output is somewhat small (only one other disc released, albeit to some significant critical acclaim) it is more than apparent that Kirk is fully in his element, meshing dark ambient, industrial and dub into a brooding club sound that falls into--though avoids the trappings of--dubstep. When the visuals get involved it's an even more complete vision.

Truth be told though, the visuals aren't required whatsoever for this to be successful. There is an inherently grimy, urban feel here from the get-go, as "Friend for Hire" lays out some thick bass fog for a clacking electronic rhythm to glide over, creating a doom-laden, though motion-filled soundscape. Same goes for "Tondo," whose funky rhythm loop sees glistening neon light shards appearing out of the corner of the eye as you cruise the city streets. Extremely visual even without the visuals, this is some really well conceived stuff, and Hamish Low's slow and long guitar emissions steam the surroundings like sewer air.

"Cypher" gets into more ambient territory, gliding about three inches off the ground with shawl in hand as moody and mellow shadows drape over the buildings. Definitely something quintessentially Japanese about it it seems, can't really help but picture the lights of Tokyo and bustling subways as vocal shards are delayed across the terrain before the bad ass funk/bachelor vibes of "SSRI" serve as the Morricone soundtrack to some Tokyo gang movie. One of the nicest works here, but really it's a highlight among highlights, with the whole album clearly serving as a masterfully conceived journey. "Portable Pariah" could be African Head Charge if they took their cues from hip-hop instead of reggae, commercials instead of ganja (or commercials on ganja, maybe...) while "The Sand Collector" is a grimy and glitched out techno stew sent through the factory liens before getting sent to the cruncher. The closing "A Prior Disengagement" (not a bad title, eh?) thuds along with grim malice, displaying the snarky smile of a serial killer throughout.

The DVD only solidifies the already ample visual component of the disc. Beautiful work here--"Cypher" is all white-out fog stuff while "SSRI" looks like a cartoon overlay of city trekkers. Really wild and extremely interesting to watch. Not to mention the deluxe package, which comes with a couple newspaper cuts-outs )mine speaks of Ringo no longer wanting autograph requests) and photos--just uber-deluxe. The first release on the label too, so if this is any indicator keep an eye out. Beautiful through and through.

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