Osaka based mastering engineer Kentaro Hayashi debuts on Opal Tapes with this 2 x 12” recorded alongside Yasuyuki Nakamura, with additional remix duties from Merzbow and Jim O’Rourke. After opening with a nine-minute concrete style piece, Hayashi channels the addition/subtraction strategies of Vainqueur’s Chain Reaction outings on ‘Vakuum’, inciting laments for bass-heavy soundsystems and grotty live music venues. It works wonders in covid-era isolation too however, setting up nicely for the shuffling techno paranoia of ‘Peculiar’ and the brooding, understated cut ‘Odyssey’. Building on the original CD release, Kentaro and Stephen Bishop draw for two extra cuts, notably ‘Arrowhead’, a ridiculously compelling mutant DnB/jungle spin-off that blends walls of noise, crow squawks, sub-aquatic FX and sharp breaks.
From this writer’s perspective, the general atmosphere is one that seems to incorporate varying strands of UK club culture across the past three decades, taking elements from the hardcore continuum and the starker moments of early dubstep and fusing them with a brutalist approach to sound design that fits in line with the heyday of Japanese noise. Whilst raw and chaotic, the tracks fit together to convey an extremely acute sense of purpose, Hayashi seemingly aware of how each piece of the album holds together. O’Rourke deconstructs ‘Vakuum’, twisting stems of the original into glitch-laden vortex, whilst Merzbow brings us back to the opening cut, doubling up on the intensity and bringing proceedings to a close. Hayashi has been quietly working away behind the scenes at Slowdown (スローダウンRECORDS) over the past year, responsible for technical assistance on a slew of Merzbow CDs and a blink and you’ll miss it Vanity records demo compilation. In late 2020 he released Peculiar as a small-run CD for the Remodel label, a drop in the ocean of the ever-expansive Japanese noise scene. The album seemed grounded in the shadows of its home country with no proper distribution - globally impenetrable by less than a select few in the know fans. With its finger on the pulse, Opal Tapes now welcomes these microworlds of dark and beautiful sound structures to the fold with worldwide distribution on the vinyl edition. Some heavy, heavy frequencies on this one!
- Fergus Clark
released April 2, 2021
Written : Kentaro Hayashi
#7 Remix : Jim O’Rourke
#8 Remix : Merzbow
Produced : Yasuyuki Nakamura / Studio Warp / Slow Down Records
Special Thanks : Agi Yuzuru, Nose Iseo, Shin Akiyama