KOJI ASANO – Travel Coupons

Solstice

Although quite different in terms of broad-spectrum sonority, the two tracks comprised by Travel Coupons seem to have been generated from the same sources, or at least make use of similar elements in conjunction with the time-honored computerized transactions that represent Koji Asano’s trademark. I think I’m not terribly wrong if guessing that they contain field recordings – voices of little children are repeatedly heard in the distance – and scattered orchestral snippets utilized as crucial components. It is both startling and rewarding to see how the materials are systematically distorted during the first part, then superimposed in weird adjacencies in the second which – at over 48 minutes – represents the disc’s most momentous portion. It’s there that Asano mixes three or four realities – some of them more “concrete” than others – to lull us across a complete range of displacing timbral shifts that ultimately blend in a mesmerizingly alien unity. Imagine a small town’s fair, with a brass band playing popular tunes among the cheerful residents; then picture an instant of shocking transcendence, the initial image deprived of bright colours and vivid details to become a somewhat warning symbol of the sorrows of a long-gone past. Amidst all of this, signs of pulsating life still try to get perceived in the mix, transforming the whole into an unreal funeral march with echoes of erstwhile happiness in the background, a macabre circus keeping its activities constant alongside a transition towards the unavoidable ending, our focus melting in a series of nebulous perspectives. No yearning, no hope. Forbiddingly superb music, substantiating the healthy individualism of this composer in the perplexing landscape of current audio art.

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