This album was originally pitched to me as something “top secret”. The names of those responsible were strictly hush-hush. I think this was because neither of the two Japanese producers involved is usually associated with chilled-out sounds, and the label, Flower Records, wanted you to listen without prejudice. However, the Bandcamp page is now up, and their cover`s been blown. Down The Road is work of Ryo Kawahara and Slowly’s Masato Komatsu. It`s a kind of concept album, conceived in the Covid lockdown, and cryptic comment on the crisis` lasting impact on Tokyo`s club culture. In the artists` own words, it is “a fictional soundtrack for “the weekend” that we lost during the pandemic.”
Sonically it`s situated somewhere between a library LP, new age / meditation cassette, and desert island disc. All of it is tastefully tropical in tone. The nine relatively short romantic studies for drum machine, guitar, and ringing reverb, fleshed out further by marimba-like melodies and vibraphone. Slow-motion wah-wah licks. A kalimba`s pretty steel-tongued click. Cracks, claps of dubwise, like monsoon thunder. These explosions, sudden echoic blooms, interrupting moments of erotic bedroom boogie and episodes of eccentric easy-listening, that mirror both Videotapemusic`s laidback sample-delia, and Edan`s boom-bap psychedelia.
Sweet Thing is a synthesized skanking, that mixes whistling with theremin. It`s Not Over Yet features a fluid, water-like flow. Its muted, aquatic details suggesting a scuba dive, a colourful coral reef. The closing At Last I Am Free invokes the innovative communications of Software, while saluting Suzanne Ciani`s (ground) breaking Buchla waves. I can also hear similarities with Seahawks, possibly, probably, in the vintage gear used.
Lost Weekend`s Down The Road is out now, on Flower Records.