Review: Fading Tapes – Radio Okinawa (Katuktu Collective, Jun 29)

With Radio Okinawa, Polish duo Fading Tapes explores a freely improvised approach to spacey rock music. Described as a story about the titular island’s “places and culture, present and past,” the album balances whimsical, rambling guitar and percussion interplay with a clear sense of direction and dynamics – that, to be fair, is more present in some places than others. Since Radio Okinawa is entirely instrumental, the tributing directed toward Okinawa seem to be abstract, emotional, or even personal, implying that members Krzysztof Siwkowski and Marcin Lasek might have sentimental connections toward it; or it could be that they’re paying homage to their view of the island from a distance or a less experiential perspective. But even without context, the two musicians’ improvisations drip with reverence, varying from airy, spacious tumblings without much concrete rhythm to meditative grooves that repeat until they collapse inward upon themselves. I’d say I enjoyed the former sections more; while I hesitate to compare artists to each other, I can’t help but see many (favorable) similarities between opening track “O-bon” and the early 2000’s work of Jackie-O Motherfucker, one of my favorite bands. It’s a direction I hope to see Fading Tapes focus on in the future, but I enjoyed pretty much all of Radio Okinawa, a pleasingly sprawling record that has a lot to offer.