Review: Takahiro Mukai – Spell (Nazlo, Jan 18)

The Moscow-based Nazlo Records uses the same eclectic set of neologisms to tag each of their releases on Bandcamp: “animal music,” “obviously-experimental,” “post-human,” “ritual glitch,” and “ultrahardcore.” Usually when labels do this it leads to some misleading mismatches, but somehow every entry in Nazlo’s catalog, no matter how radically different from its peers, seems to fit quite nicely under that mutant umbrella of labels. Spell is no exception; the newest tape from consistently prolific Osaka producer Takahiro Mukai, even after the artist has amassed a considerable body of work that treads far beyond the bounds of electronic dance music (with an impressive list of imprints as well: Fort Evil Fruit, Cruel Nature, Cudighi, Moss Archive, ERR REC, Never Anything, Alien Passengers, Lal Lal Lal, and many more), may be his best fusion of conventional appeal and subversive abstraction yet. The contrast between the A and B sides is night and day: the former is dotted with fragmented glitches and shortwave warble, a mesmerizing swarm of erroneous transmissions in the vein of Shunt or the Vacuum Boys, while the latter first lulls with a stretch of beautiful, sincere ambient (Mukai’s 500th numbered piece!) and then bobs back to shore across gently lapping waves of synth tones. Each track is unassumingly gorgeous in its own unique way, and all together they seem to say something that can’t actually be said. A good entry point into an intimidating discography.

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