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CD Feature/ Yuki Kaneko: "Rut"

img  Tobias

You can't take the boy out of this man. Yuki Kaneko has spent the past seven years writing works for theatrical productions and honing his skills as a sound designer while releasing a carefully selected extract of his oeuvre on his private PhaseRubRec imprint. „Rut“, his first internationally marketed album, was initially published on a local label before being picked up by Dale Lloyd's MOAR, guaranteeing worldwide distribution and wide-spread attention. And yet, underneath these illustrous credentials still hides the soul of a child, happy to regard these events as wonderful opportunities to continue the naive game of making music rather than further steps towards fame and prestige.

With regards to „Rut“, it would certainly have been easy for him to simply let the record company do all the work while leaning back in his comfortable chair back in Japan and watching his name go around. Instead, Kaneko has given his original a thorough revision. All pieces have been remastered, most have been reconstructed, one has been replaced and the sequencing of the album as a whole has undergone drastic changes. In terms of approach, this radicality reminds one of Taylor Deupree's second take on „Northern“, which also sounded like a completely different work. Both artists have not only subjected typical ingredients like build-up and production to their fresh interpretation, but also reconsidered instrumentation, timbre, effects and composition itself. While Deupree's vision of Winter spun out into an epic conflation of form and gentle haze, however, Kaneko has ended up with an almost ephemeral sound and eleven four-minute miniatures, whose concision contrasts sharply with their unhurried pace.

It would certainly be hard to imagine an album more lost in self-reflection and quiet expectation than this one. While he, on paper at least, reduces the original shape and meaning of his source materials to nothing but bubbling streaks of sound, gurgling sheets of harmony and vague metaphors of warmth, comfort and intimacy, Kaneko is a tender deconstructionist. Like a sonic gardener tearing out weeds from his soil, he frees music of its all-too-immediate associations, leaving only vague insinuations and tactile intimations intact. Occasional Glockenspiel sentences immerse themselves in landscapes of undulation and Guitar melodies are softly reduced to mere rudiments and to tender, solitary tones in search of a line. No notational software in the world could produce a score to this album, or else it would have to be printed out on microfibre paper and feature notes of different colours as part of a threedimensional system.

A first listen could turn out to be a difficult one for some of these reasons. Before enjoyment sets in, one has to adjust to the fact that there seems to be no gravitational centre whatsoever on „Rut“. Structure, here, is the result of musical elements combining within the mind of the listener, not of a composer consciously premeditating and organising blocks of sound. While the album makes for a woozy background soundtrack, the more one zooms in, the more confounding it gets. While a few pieces make use of percussion in a very physical way, melody and harmony seem to have entangled themselves in some kind of acoustic knot on most of the remaing pieces, making it hard to tell one from the other. And yet, this music seems so fragile and familiar in one moment and so dark and withdrawn in the next that one would find it hard refering to it as extreme.

Perhaps the secret to Kaneko's music is this: You can not fully appreciate it without surrendering to it completely. But when you do, your sensory channels are filled with something so refined and nuanced and so utterly different from what they are usually exposed to that the effect is intruiging and disturbing at the same time - this album certainly does not qualify as one of those typical sensitive works of a nurdy teenager, conjuring up nostalgic poetry in his bedroom while looking at the picture of the girls he madly loves but will never ever dare to talk to. As much as his credentials and techniques mark him as  a serious artist on the ladder to success, you truly can not take the boy out of Kaneko. „Rut“ is an uncompromising work as seen through the eyes of a child, an experiment wearing a terry cloth bathrobe.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Yuki Kaneko
Homepage: Moar Records

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