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ATAK x 3

Keiichiro Shibuya, ATAK000 (ATAK)
Goem, ATAK005 (ATAK)
Kim Cascone + Jason Kahn + Steinbrüchel, ATAK004 (ATAK)

Good things come in threes *mdash; at least in this case. Every once in awhile, I find an unexpected package in my mailbox with a cd or two contained therein. A couple weeks back, such a package arrived — from Japan, no less! — containing three cracking (and crackling) cds of minimal electronics from ATAK, a relatively new label from Tokyo run by Keiichiro Shibuya.

With the exception of Shibuya himself, all the artists here are familiar figures within the electronic music subgenre known as microsound. Though all three discs have much to recommend them, it was the Keiichiro Shibuya record, his solo debut, that initially captured my attention. Track one (untitled), with its strong, precisely crafted cochlea-frying buzzes and percussive taps and pulses (a la Pan sonic), sets the tone that Shibuya maintains throughout the record, which crackles and throbs in a most pleasurable fashion.

The record only loses steam with the penultimate track, which with its use of lush piano chords, sticks out like a sore thumb in Shibuya?s otherwise bone-dry, yet funky asceticism. In spite of this odd misstep, this is excellent stuff, and in headphones — yow!

Unlike Keiichiro Shibuya, Goem is a known quantity, with a slew of records to its credit on labels such as Mego, 12k and raster-noton; however, ATAK005 is their first release in over two years and it is very different from their earlier work. First, this is essentially a Frans de Waard solo record, whereas in the past and, apparently in the future, Goem has most often been a trio project of de Waard, Roel Meelkop and Peter Dumelinks. Second, the palette of sounds is also very different and greatly expanded from earlier Goem works with lots of vintage synth tones thrown in the mix and there’s even a jazzy track with breakbeats (?! ) no less. And yet, the music is still quite Goem-esque (or is it Goem-ish?) — okay, the breaks make no sense, but let’s forget about them for now and, perhaps, forever. Like their past work, it’s a wonder of slow-burning, controlled sonic understatement and quite glorious repetition. Goem’s music seeps into your consciousness in a manner that’s positively infernal.

The final installment in the ATAK trilogy is Kim Cascone + Jason Kahn + Steinbrüchel, ATAK004 — it is final only in my reality — ATAK000 is the most recently released record, ATAK004 is actually the first . To my knowledge this is the first collaboration by these three sound artists. ATAK label-head, Keiichuro Shibuya, likens the effect of listening to this disc to the sound of running water, and the comparison is utterly apt. Though there’s a lot of activity going on here with delicate static and bell-like tones, you tend to focus not on particular details, but rather on the overall flow of sound. It’s a very pretty, quietly immersive record.

 

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