Ish Ish

EPs

Kyoka KyokaIsh

7.2 / 10

The little information available about Kyoka indicates that she is a woman born in Japan and living in Berlin who has been putting out music since 2008. Her only reference on an album listed on Discogs, “Ufunfunfufu”, doesn’t even have the year it was released on it. This explains, in a sense, how little was known about her and her work until she came to form a part of the Raster-Noton catalogue with “Ish”, the fifth volume in the vinyl series ‘Unun’. The brief biography on the German label’s website places her in the orbit of Frank Bretschneider, who is the producer - the soul of the final sound on the 12”. This is something that adds more information to complete the mystery: this is a woman who started out sharpening the forms and manners of oriental pop, that avant-garde j-pop that people like Taylor Deupree are mad about, and who has ended up passing over to the dark side of techno, as if she were Tujiko Noriko possessed by a violent fit of the most incorruptible Pan Sonic.

At least that is what the first two cuts of “Ish” sound like: that pumping, iron techno, born of the Finnish school of the Sähkö record label, all straight lines and solid drums. Details adding colour and distortion are only occasionally added, such as Kyoka’s own vocal interjections, with her aluminium voice (in the original take of “ HADue”, which at times reminds one of the collaborations of Alva Noto with Anne-James Chaton on “ Uni Acronym”) and that acid bass line towards the end of the remix that Atom TM did for the same song. The rest of the EP relaxes, opening towards a range of possibilities and flexibility right on the verge of the final boundary between the glitch aesthetic and pop forms, but this doesn’t at all signal a relaxing of Kyoka’s way of producing. “ YESACLOUDui”, “ 23 iSH” and “ ROMOOne”, the three cuts on the B-side, are pieces in permanent tension, in which the kettle seems to be boiling: the sound modulates abruptly, forms a bubble, and bursts, moving more through the heat of drums and organic whines than through the cold of the rhythmic structures. Underneath lie muted vocal tones, static pulses, whistles and drums split down the middle— exactly what one would expect of Raster-Noton at its most “commercial”.

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