Having made contact with Makedub`s marvelous Akio Nagase, Emotional Rescue / Response / Especial have now released a series E.P.s, looking back at the catalogue of Akio`s fellow Osaka-based spars, Chillmountain.
The 4-part retrospective collects 17 tracks that range from tripped-out ambient – see the concrete collage of label-founder, Ground`s Enjoy Yourself – to tribal techno – such as his wonky, wobbly, Utau Narukoyuri. In between including great mid-tempo gear, like Mori Ra’s Mountain Disco – a tropic of timbales, carnival whistles, rainforest squawks and shrieks. Right across the 8 sides of vinyl a TB-303`s acidic gurgling is never far away, while BPMs bounce around from slow, stoned ravers – for example O.R.`s break-driven, Hammock Beats – to perky, percolating house. Loopy, locked, and groovy, like Ground`s Kaukiji, or buzzing with Basic Channel-esque detail, like Akio`s Mbira Dub.
The legacy of Jamaican innovators, such as King Tubby and Lee Perry, is clearly a big influence, and it`s possibly the one thing that links all the tracks on offer. It`s obvious, for instance, on cuts such as the cute cumbia-clipped, Something Sign – a collaboration between Ground, Jose Finagandara and Juan Diego lllescas. Elsewhere it`s fed through a more machined, industrial filter. The tantric trance of Hutte Sound System`s Fire Fly is a sexy sonic splicing of mid-90s IDM and erotic pop. Think Global Communication meets Madonna & Lenny Kravitz’s Justify My Love. Their Hutte Life In Future, while also dubbed-out, is a superior slice of slo-mo motorik. Finding the funk in Neu!
Saeko Killy`s Dancing Pikapika is a bass-heavy post-punk-esque ballad. A Japanese sibling of Jayne Casey`s Pink Industry – koto, or shamisen, in there with the distorted new wave guitar. Several other pieces also weave in traditional instruments, and it`s these, for me personally, that are the most interesting. Where the artists’ aim could be to help keep Japan’s ancient cultural heritage alive. Arasawa`s Hou thou men men Ⅱ (Yunnan) is a sort of skank, serenaded by woodwinds, strange bowed strings, a mukkuri – the Japanese juice harp – and Shinto or Buddhist chant. Nagase-san`s cracking, Arauma (Kobato Dub) – a chunky, chugging, shuffle and stomp – it`s use of shakuhachi, instantly recognizable Nippon folk-flavoured group call-and-response, in particular, made me think of a trip south that I took a while back. Driving from Nagano to Kumamoto, one of the stop-offs was Tokushima – a place famous for its summer dance festival, Awa Odori. For 4 days in August, the streets of the city are full of music and troupes, who’ve trained all year, shaking a seriously significant leg. As I leapt about listening to all this cool Chillmountain stuff, what sprung to mind most were the lyrics of this festival’s central song: “The dancers are fools, and the watchers are fools; if both are fools, you may as well dance anyway.”
All four Chillmountain / Emotional Especial E.P.s are available digitally, and for vinyl pre-order, over at Bandcamp. I have to add that the sheer, somewhat psychedelic, inventiveness on display, especially on E.P. #4, reminded me a lot of Buffalo Daughter’s classic, Captain Vapour Athletes.