Writers

  • Writer Paul Thomsen Kirk
  • Pub Co: Paul Thomsen Kirk
  • Admin: Non-cdbaby

Composer

Paul Thomsen Kirk

Clearance

Sync & All Media Uses

Control

Master and Publishing Grant

YouTube Monetization

Rights

One-Stop: Master + 100% Pub Grant

Recording Type

Original

Country

JAPAN

Akatombo "Hikiko Mori"
Hikiko Mori
  • Performed By: Akatombo
  • Album: False Positives
  • Album UPC: 753907161229
  • Album ID: akatombo
  • Label: Hand-Held Recordings
  • CD Baby Account: CDB03583320
  • CD Baby Track ID: 9639797
  • ISRC: ushm21273055
  • Released: 07/02/12

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Description

A mesmeric miasma of electronica reflecting life in a modern Japanese metropolitan environment. From ethereal, melancholy soundscapes to dark, brooding, beat-laden, slightly Ballardian, dystopic low-end excursions. No dank alleyway left unexplored.

Note

A strange hybrid of more modern dubstep, and old school post industrial soundscapery, the mood is ominous and haunting, the melodies minor key and sinister, the beats aren't big, although they are dense and powerful, but the bass most certainly is, we find ourselves cranking the bass on our system, and every track sets the whole house a rumbling. A super thick throbbing low end shock wave of sound, that pulses beneath the muted rhythmic pound, and the strange processed voices, the chopped and looped samples, a swirling, roiling blackened sea of low end, that sprawls and oozes. Fans of stuff like Spectre, Scorn and Muslimgauze will definitely dig, in fact, Akatombo does in some ways sound like a composite of those three. Some Eastern influence here and there, some deep bass dub dynamics, some serious industrial leanings, all woven together into a minimal/maximal songsuite of seriously deep listening blackened chillout music, a smolderingsmear of some slow motion dancefloor density. We even hear some Portishead in there too, a little jazziness as well, some Bohren maybe? >>Aquarius Records review<<

Blurt Online review for previous album "unconfirmed reports"
Unconfirmed Reports: the expression triggers a sense of trepidation - it's always immediately followed by tidings of death, destruction or disaster. What better title, then, for an album oozing dread like there's no tomorrow, literally. Akatombo's widescreen, industrial-strength soundscapes aren't so much musique concrète as music for and about concrete: Unconfirmed Reports is the sound of the dystopian metropolis, with tension, menace, paranoia and claustrophobia looming large. Indeed, it's no small irony that Akatombo (ex-pat Scottish artist Paul Thomsen Kirk) resides in Hiroshima, a city once destroyed by technology at its worst.
Trace Elements, Akatombo's 2003 debut, was dark and weighty, but compared with this long-overdue follow-up, it might as well have been in Technicolor. (Between albums, Kirk survived a bout of meningitis only to be the victim of a hit-and-run accident, so perhaps it's inevitable that the mood here isn't exactly bright and cheery.) The approach is a similar one -- dub-flavored, hypnotic beat- and loop-centric electronics interspersed with sparse organic instrumentation -- but Unconfirmed Reports feels starker and more monolithic. In fact, it's almost Brutalist in terms of the architectural feel of its hard, bold surfaces and its uniform, repeating structures. Kirk digs bass-heavy, deep foundations, some tracks calling to mind vintage On-U fare, albeit anchored down with Jah Wobble-sized heft. However, while favoring gargantuan sonic building blocks among his raw materials, he balances them with minimalist detail that intensifies his aural environment's unsettling edge: evoking the city's persistent, omnipresent audio detritus, metallic white noise, drones and rumbling or humming layers drift throughout.
A lot of the work's tension stems from these seemingly peripheral elements that nag away at the consciousness; never fully declaring their presence or assuming a recognizable form, they exist in a state of perpetual threat, ratcheting up the foreboding. Sampled voices are crucial to this equation. Rather than drop in snippets of speech as punctuation, allowing them to stand as discrete linguistic entities, Kirk has them function as barely decipherable textures. In places, they're absent-presences, disembodied components in the greater machinery of the urban audioscape; elsewhere, these human traces are subsumed into the compositions and rendered almost subliminal.

>>Brainwashed.com review for "unconfirmed reports"<<
Back from a long hiatus after a single critically acclaimed release (Trace Elements, on Colin Newman’s Swim~ label), Paul Thomsen Kirk reappears from his Hiroshima based enclave with a new, lavishly packaged album that blends electronic atmospheres, old school industrial textures, dubby bass, and breakbeats with compelling virtuosity.
Hand-Held Recordings
My first sampling of this disc reminded me of the mid 1990s ambient/isolationist dub scene that produced a number of short lived but excellent projects that peaked too early: Techno Animal’s Re-Entry and Scorn’s Evanescence rank within my all time favorite albums, yet soon after their releases the former began to lean too heavily on various distortion plugins and the latter became content to simply layer a hip-hop beat over basic abstract sounds. My comparison isn’t to say Unconfirmed Reports sounds dated, because it doesn’t, instead it takes the best elements of that period and sustains them with enough modern technique and technology to sound fresh. The mostly dense, chaotic mixes somewhat parallel the likes of Meat Beat Manifesto or the Bomb Squad’s production work with Public Enemy, but replacing the funk elements in both with dark industrial bleakness.
Album opener "Friend for Hire" uses the dub scene’s love of deep reverbed bass to keep the dark atmospherics going, but layers a variety of synth tracks on top and a rhythm right off of the best electro records keep the song flowing, and though it does lock into a minimalist repetition, there is enough change and variation to keep it from growing stagnant. The following "Pragmatism" is more dynamic, but still retains a definite structure, letting fragments of electric guitar and voice samples into the otherwise synthetic sounds. To me it sounds like it could have been a stand-out track on either of the landmark Macro Dub Infection compilations that surveyed dub influenced electronica of the day.
While the elements are notable throughout, the traditionalist industrial vibe comes to the surface on "Cypher" and "The Sand Collector." The former takes synths that sound like feedback (or feedback that sounds like synths) into raw clipping territory, and replaces any drums with a precise bass sequence and heavily processed voices. Structurally and atmospherically it feels a lot like early Cabaret Voltaire (think Mix Up or before). "The Sand Collector" cranks up the distortion on the synths and rhythms to push it precariously close to harsh noise territory, but exercises enough restraint to remain in control. While "Cypher" was Cabaret Voltaire, this could be a 21st century take on SPK’s Information Overload Unit or Leichenschrei due to the raw, yet rhythmic elements. The feedback loop that is prevalent throughout the track actually sounds a whole lot like it could be a sample from "Ground Zero: Infinity Dose," but that could be just coincidence.
Other tracks aren’t as bleak, with "SSRI" throwing jazzy breakbeats and a hip-hop bass line together with slightly surf guitar. There is still the industrial/mechanical din in the distance, but is more upbeat and lighter in comparison to some of the aforementioned tracks. "Portable Pariah" has a more spacious mix and even with the noisy loops and textures, feels more airy and open, allowing greater access to the synths and the catchy beats. The closing "A Prior Disengagement" acts as an amalgamation of the entire disc, showcasing blown speaker hip-hop beats with almost acid synth sequences and shrieking noises and fragments of voice communication, combining the more musical elements of the album with the more harsh ones.
Unconfirmed Reports successfully extracts some of the best elements of 1990s electronic music and puts them in a modern, though dark, context. The disc comes lavishly packaged in an oversized envelope with large inserts, hand-cut newspaper clippings, and a bonus DVD-R of short films to three of the tracks, all of which combine the music with treated video of Japan that emphasizes the sense of alienation and disconnect that the music demonstrates.
Although it vividly conjures up the dehumanizing homogeneity of the metropolitan space, this material is surprisingly heterogeneous. Some of the strongest tracks embody that diversity: for instance, the dub behemoth, "Friend for Hire," which trundles forward implacably (its title alone suggesting an alienated human presence: relationships of affect supplanted by economic relations); the austere standout, "Cypher," assembles an expansive, Cluster-esque drone-environment; and there's even a pop moment (well, relatively speaking) on "SSRI," where chunky beats, ominous bass and spectral tremolo guitar conspire to recall early Portishead.
Unconfirmed Reports is especially appealing for Kirk's refusal to settle into a genre. It traverses myriad stylistic spaces, from ambient to post-rock, with hip hop, dubstep, funk and industrial inflections, but the result is much more than the sum of its parts. Much like the city, Kirk's object of abject fascination, this music is always in transition, shifting kaleidoscopically. Above all, it's a memorable exercise in uneasy listening, capturing the unmistakable ambience of urban disquiet.
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