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CD Feature/ Tokyo Mask: "Hinterlands"

img  Tobias

Often, the biggest provocations do not stem from radical experiments but from disappointing expectations on a more subtle level. Without doubt or reasonable reason to dispute, “Hinterlands” is a groovy, catchy, darkly seductive and sinisterly relaxing album with the potential to appeal to all with a knack for deep sounds and dragging beats – which is quite a sizeable amount of listeners in my book. On the other hand, few records have managed to conjur up an equal spread of bashings and hymns of praise. So what has Tokyo Mask done to alienate large chunks of his audience?

In effect, he has destilled his music down to its essence. Kostas Karamitas draws his inspiration from “rivers of alcohol, angry priests, rusty demons” and even “strange odours” according to his website, but in more concrete terms, his main source of influence are avantgarde noise and ghoulish dub – even if they, too, have only left faint traces on the simple but incredibly hypnotic beats, leaning on straightforward hihatpatterns and a plentitude of tiny polyrhythmic percussive particles, as well as streaks of sinister drones, which are occasionally left to pulsate on their own for a few minutes. But even compared to the echo chamber experiments of Jamaican producers in the 70s, Karamitas seems like an ascetic. His tracks appear out of black holes, start moving as if wound up by invisible hands and then rattle along like metal machineries in the cradle of Rosemary’s baby, vanishing into the same space of unconsciousness they came from. Hardly audible spoken word samples are woven into the texture of the pieces, as are stabs of didgeridoo breaths and two-tone themes by broken organs caught in a cosmic winter far away from here, bending like weeping willows in a sandstorm. But there is not a single melody to be found anywhere, nor are there any vocals or hints at human intervention. The bassdrum of “Oil and Stone” pounds like a heart in hypersleep, but it remains foreign like an insuperable fronteer.

To many, this absence of traceable development has indicated a poverty of creativity and an unfair amount of self-indulgence. Maybe “Hinterlands” really does require a great deal of commitment by the listener and above all the willingness to immerse yourself into a music which leaves a lot to your own imagination. It is the same with a David Lynch film: Most of its images are mere metaphors, which you either recognise or you don’t. If the former applies, then this album will suck you in like a maelstrom.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Tokyo Mask
Homepage: Low Impedance Records

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