Ken Ishii : Flatspin

Old School bleeps from Japanese techno head...

Once, there was Techno. Way before the new electronic musics fissured out into various sub-genres, Techno existed. At its best, it was either gloriously populist or guaranteed to give listeners nosebleeds. Ken Ishii obviously wishes things had stayed the same the more they seemed to change.

Though not necessarily a nostalgist, he has gone to great lengths to make his new – presumably digital – recording resemble an analogue Techno one. With a heavy use of electronic percussion and mid-range bass sonics, he’s sculpted an askew dance music, so regimented as to suggest a collection of musical signs, gestures and nods, stitched together with severe discipline.

The Tokyo artisan’s work still resembles a blank canvas waiting to be superimposed on. Beyond the noise-shrapnel of the title track’s three disparate parts, Ishii suppresses his personality in favour of functionalism. Its almost like he’s absent from creations like ‘Gap Accelerator’ – where Techno forms and past cliches are melded into something different from the sources.

When ‘Drums In Friction’ cuts in with its bizarre approximation of kodo drummers, and when ‘Frozen Reminiscence’ suggests a fever dream of a snowed-in Tokyo, its easy to see why Ishii is so regarded. But the decision to add Inner City’s Paris Grey, to bring vocal heat to an already complete ‘Iceblink’, signals a fore-knowledge of the shortcomings here.

Dele Fadele