REVIEW: FLUID RADIO (UK)
Keiichi Sugimoto has been releasing music as FourColor since 1998 on his own imprint Cubic Music and on labels such as Apestaartje and 12k. He is also part of electro-acoustic quartet Minamo and electronica duo Fonica…
With As Pleat
, Sugimoto presents a wonderful collection of ten fragmented-guitar pieces interwoven with complex background drones and expressive incidentals whose appearance help shape a monumental new album once again released on the impeccable 12k label.
Echoing the stuttering and cut-up editing techniques of Fountain on his precedent release Letter of Sounds (2006, 12k), the opening track "Quiet Gray 1" is a wonderful representation of Sugimoto’s sound world – otherwordly and yet very tactile. Augmenting his guitar with the beautiful and ethereal voice of Sanae Yamsaki aka Moskitoo, Sugimoto splices and laces them into a complex mesh that slowly morph into long and lingering swells of interwoven harmonies, as if time had lost its linearity and became multidimensional – an idea that will be explored many times throughout the album under various guises. The two subsequent numbers "Skating Azure" and "Bleach Black" are both supported by strong metronomic signatures as a way of stria-ting a space otherwise stretched and smoothened by a slow and processed guitar work that conjures layers of clouds of contrasted forms and textures.
Central track "Carmine Fall" is a majestic 9-min exploration, sounding at times like a warm condensate of Ovalprocess slowly unfolding into alternate soundscapes made of translucent layers of frozen guitar swells, antagonist micro-rhythms and distant tintinnabulations giving the impression that time has melted, neither passing or stopping. Sugimoto’s subtle use of reverb give this track a strange aquatic quality akin to the mist above a imaginary digital swamp.
The three penultimate tracks are less abstract than preceding numbers but also more dreamy as if resolving the underlying tension set up and slowly dissolved in the first part of the album. Snow Petal is a wonderful evocation of a silent landscape being gently disturbed by the sound of snow falling at dusk, time suspended above sunlit clouds. "Iris (Familiar)" sees Yamsaki’s vocals coming back, this time floating and diffused around quiet hiss of white noise and plucked guitars, so lightly processed their texture slowly change from gaseous to silky – absolutely gorgeous piece of work where everything is so detailed and flows gracefully over a bed of warm enveloping tones.
Final track "Quiet Gray 2" appears like a ghost version of opener Quiet Gray 1. The same narrative pattern seems to be explored but the relative laziness and innocence that characterised the latter has now disappeared, giving a very enigmatic aftertaste, thus carving even further the emotional dimensionality of Sugimoto’s work. A very unexpected and yet all the more powerful ending to this magnificent album.
Keiichi Sugimoto has created so much more than a beautiful piece of ambient work. As Pleat
’s depth and dimensionality are very much mesmerising and unique – an essential release.