From the product webpage (note, non-native speaker if you are confused by the English): "Sunao's new studio recording stuff out! The complicate elements re-constructed to newer beats. Cut upped abstract grains re-constructed to newer rhythm. High knowledge of DSP based sound design process with analog modular synthesis. Complex music, but very original. No drum alternative grooves through the cut up breaks with dark electro."
Having stumbled upon Sunao Inami's music while searching for a couple of Kenji Siratori's albums, An Impulse of Acoustic caught my eye. I delayed buying it for no real reason (well, lack of money had a little to do with it) and had almost stopped thinking about it when I saw a Myspace bulletin about a new, limited edition album coming out: Laid Back Computing. I thought: why not?
Starting with the packaging, the album is an attractive black plastic case of a form I've not seen before, close in general shape to a NintendoDS game case. It seems sturdier than most CD cases (especially our tendency, now, to move towards cardboard casing) and somehow just works better. The album cover features a rather lovely Agatha Moon (you can visit her webpage if you are into attractive Italian latex/fetish models, it seems mostly safe for work, but I have only glanced through a few shots). There is no booklet or information outside of the cover, which is ok because this is a genre where booklets are largely just excuses for non-representative artwork and pictures of urban decay.
The album mixes together a handful of sub-genres. I'll be quick to confess that I am not 100% up on the lingo. There is a tendency toward non-natural, organic sounds and Industrial - loud thumps and cyclic presses - with a heavy backbone of Noise set to rhythm. The overall package is a dark, ambient Electro. It is not quite dance music, but plays around with the concept. You find yourself caught up with the beats for periods of time and then, in the next moment, back into an unstructured section. The effect is not unlike Free Jazz, where a jam of amelodic notes comes together here or there into a intimation of consciousness.
The most amazing thing about this album is Sunao Inami's ability to avoid the biggest trap of IDM. Too often, the genre albums are plagued by a lack of song identity, an hour long flow of the exact same thing that feels endless at best and pointless at worst. You begin to wonder if you couldn't have saved money on some albums by just buying one song off of iTunes and looping it with a few extra minor effects tossed in until you were tired of it. Laid Back Computing, though, overcomes this hurdle and does so in spades. The album has an overall identity, the songs work together and enhance one another, but it also manages to find a particular voice for each of the tracks so you feel them separately. This is not a mere rehashing of a theme, these tracks are genetically linked while being free to explore themselves. This helps to increase how listenable and relistenable the whole thing is, and makes you feel like you have spent money on an album and not some sort of EP full of slight remixes.
A good example of this would be between the third to sixth tracks: "Grain Blinds" to "Waiting in the Grain". This section starts with a severely cut up beat, akin to an electronic aping of a tap dancing Fremen. From there, it goes into "An Ephemeral Thing", which holds a steady pacing of water noises with a gentle back and forth fade. This morphs into "All Things Must Pass", which captures the noise and form of what could be a distant warehouse district, a more human-caused sound. Then, finally, this section ends with a track that brings all three along. Natural wave forms are blended in with non-natural cut-up breaks and the two are given seven minutes to play off another. As that section is left behind, we move into track seven - "You Daren't Look Behind" - in which we get some of the heaviest, most steady beats in the whole thing are laid out and the edits seem limited until it reaches a bridge of sorts and weaves in and out together. All of these tracks are cousins to one another, but not one would be mistaken for one of the others.
The album gets a hearty Good and is generally recommended to everyone who likes dark techno, experimental music, and has been thinking about picking up something with a bit of a noise edge to it.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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