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CD Review: Susumu Yokota & Rothko – Distant Sounds of Summer

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One listen to the opening sounds of “Deep In Mist” and you’ll instantly understand the choice of album title. Those warm yet extremely distant keys could conjure up nothing so clearly as a nostalgic evocation of a fading summer scene. “Waters Edge,” on the other hand, is a moment most definitely on pause: sounding (on the surface of things) like an echo bouncing back and forth between two points ad infinitum, this is an auditory freeze frame, dragging lines of thought out in tangents in much the same way as a postcard that holds the slightest flicker of animation.

The surprisingly dancey “Path Fades Into The Forest” raises things to cruising altitude before fading out serenely to the brooding “Lit By Moonlight.” It creeps stealthily along until a computer-like chirp ricochets repeatedly, giving the song the feel of headlights prowling through darkened industrial streets. Max Beazley’s guitar is at its very best here and on “Brook and Burn”, leading the way with a grace and ease reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti. Caroline Ross’ vocals, meanwhile, are a curious addition to Susumu Yokota’s world of swirling oscillations; though not entirely vibrant, they add a certain shape to the atmosphere, lending themselves as a centre of focus where some may be inclined to drift off, losing the span of their attention.

“Sentiero” is reminiscent of the kind of sound Yokota made a name for himself with, that bells-blowing-in-the-breeze minimalism, or in this case, masts and buoys bobbing and clinking along a pier. The lulling “Clear Space” plods along hypnotically, wandering between a subtle but entirely effective interplay of guitar and understated harmonica before Ross’ vocals return.

In all, Beazley’s guitarmanship and Yokota’s skeletal aesthetics are a match made in electronica heaven. Distant Sounds of Summer is a winner for its calculated precision alone, and gains something back for a genre that has become overly-diluted in recent times – this is a reminder of a substance the genre was once loaded with.

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