"Manchurian Candy" CD
Genres: electro, IDM, experimental electro
PO Box 39025
London E2 8WP
May 17 - 23 2004
Complex electronica is far from uncommon nowadays, although much of it
tends to sacrifice melody in favour of quixotic beats and experimental
sample carnage. Every once in awhile, however, some electro
pioneer taps into a style both accessible and wickedly
complex. We've seen Aphex Twin do it, we've seen Autechre
do it (to some extent), and more recently there have been acts like Venetian
Snares and DNTEL getting into the mix. Judging by the
success of these various names, there's clearly something brooding in
today's IDM generation - someone's caught on: "hey, we don't have to be boring anymore!"
Enter Utabi. Manchurian Candy is the first I've
heard of him (Utabi is really just the 'moniker' of Utabi
Hirokawa), but I'm hoping it won't be the last. This disc,
though a bit of an earful (cut-up samples and confusing yet
rhythmic beats are in excess), is actually very melodic. Even on
the first listen, the audience is greeted by catchy little segments of
tunefulness and electro-harmony. Although the compositions'
arrangement abnormality will likely (and predictably) scare off
unaccustomed ears, those who stick around will be rewarded.
"Three Tennies" is a fine slice of Utabi IDM-pop;
videogame synths play the melody over a snippy, clippy electronic
beat. It's like Autechre versus the Super Mario Bros.
soundtrack. "Lighpotllution" and "Set Her Eyes
Xochipilli" are wonderfully lush, pretty songs with joyously
uplifting melodies - subtle comparisons to Royksopp are
inevitable. The album's epic finale, "Cassia Angustiflia,"
is very structurally similar to DNTEL's beautiful
"Anywhere Anyone," except with more of a rhythmic angle.
Utabi's Manchurian Candy is a beautiful IDM release
that should be heard by all true electronic music lovers. Though
it may be a bit too video game influenced for some tastes, its sheer
melodic sensibility - an increasing rarity in modern
"intelligent" electronic music - truly is a thing to behold.
[Vitals: 23 tracks, distributed by the
label, released 2004]