Yamaneko’s debut release, 'Pixel Wave Embrace', received critically acclaimed plaudits for its blend of instrumental, forward thinking grime, J-RPG soundtracks and meditational influences, arriving on cassette tape as a tribute to private issue meditation tapes. Now, arriving once more on the wonderful, multi-faceted label that is Local Action, the ambient artist explores his fragile sound further, dipping in and out of the pools of techno, key-gen compositions, new age grime and video game OST’s, with 'Afterglow'.
Described as the artist's “darkest, fullest release to date”, it embraces its shadowy counterpart, so much to the extent that in finds comfort within the darkness. The first, self-titled track, 'Afterglow', begins with what sounds like futuristically enhanced organ playing alongside a single choir boy. It’s a twisted universe, this old, ruined church, debris falling to the floor as you make your way through it. Then, suddenly, the whole room begins to shake, as portals leading to an ethereal world enter quite suddenly.
Welcome to Yamaneko’s oxymoronic universe of all things familiar, and far out. Second Encounter may intend be dark, but instead gives of a distorted hopefulness, trance like elements joining the shatters and breaks in an uplifting, inspiring piece. It, in many ways, symbolises the five stages of grief, beginning with an air of denial, before working through burning anger, desperate bargaining, lowly depression and grounded acceptance with the urge to move forward.
'Oslo House Sunrise 4K' sounds exactly how a sunrise from a house in Oslo in 4K would look. Its blissful serenity is a welcome break from the distorted darkness. Gentle, captivating and quite brilliant, Yamaneko has constructed a piece, with its soothing, Japanese RPG like elements, that is both completely calming, yet utterly encapsulating. 'Unreachable Feeling' maintains the darkest aura on the EP. There’s a real feeling of hopelessness, that the darkness has finally become too much to bear.
Yet, even amongst the lost hope, there is a still an element of pride. Remember in Star Wars: Rogue One, when Jyn steals the Death Star’s plans yet ends up being killed on Scarif anyway? Well, this is how that should have been soundtracked.
'Afterglow' reaches its climax with Hydrokinesis, the stand out piece of the release. The definition of the track title reads – relating to the motions of fluids or forces which produce, or affect, such motions. Rain can be heard, gently falling on what might be a window or the roof of a tent, bringing with it an element of calm. Yamaneko’s original score influence shines at its brightest here. The cinematic quality of 'Hydrokinesis' is breathtaking, bringing its listener on the verge of tears. Sadness has never sounded so beautiful.
Words: Andrew Moore
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