Review of Drape [12k1041]

Lost At Sea (UK)

The release of Moskitoo’s Drape marks something of an occasion for 12k. Not only does it take it into its twelfth year of operation, but also sees the label take a turn into slightly more expansive territory. Drape is without doubt the most “complete” of 12k’s recent releases, cranking the electronic minimalism of Taylor Deupree, S├ębastien Roux et al up a few notches. To be sure, Moskitoo fits the 12k mould with aplomb, only in a less obvious manner; to put it simply, a couple of minutes with Drape doesn’t necessarily prompt the uninitiated to wonder, “so, when does it kick in”; unlike many of its contemporaries.

Although 12k has always successfully managed to dodge the “ambient” tag, its likeness in the way its releases are met is perceptible. Moskitoo, however, juxtaposes this notion. Granted, the components of Moskitoo (Sanae Yamasaki)’s music are microscopic, delicately textured, and lightly laced with incidental sounds and cute little mistakes, keeping it in line with the 12k modus operandi, but the difference lies in the way it is arranged. While melodic and dreamy, Drape is unmistakably immediate, consistent with electronic beats and Yamasaki’s own lush, raspy vocals, raising suggestions of it epitomizing a “supped-up” version of 12k.

Perhaps most interestingly, though, Yamasaki, appears to have cottoned on to the suggestion that experimental music has become so rife that it simply isn’t experimental anymore. By applying a more conventional guise to broken synths and ground failure sounds, she is effectively managing to produce music more dynamic and original than the mainstay of her peers. She has taken something a bit quirky and unconventional and normalized it, and thus Drape rests awkwardly with any lazy IDM or ambient comparisons.

“Skie” is Drape‘s standout track, imbued with a catchiness that minimalist electronic artists often overlook. The interaction between instruments is also quite diverse, with woodwind playing off a simple, twee glockenspiel (or similar instrument) pattern. “Manima No Lemon” exhibits a gradual buildup of chimes and airy, indecipherable vocals, before ambling jauntily into the distance via a squelchy, yet minute beat. Yamasaki brings her guitar into play with “Tarantilla”, along with its swaying synths and eerie presence. Needless to say, each track conveys its own character – a somewhat rare feat in modern electronic music.
While it may meander into light eccentricity, Drape treads ground that many experimental musicians fear – that of simple melody – and is accordingly refreshing to listen to. Zooming in more closely, Yamasaki’s tones are warm, her playing precise, and the production crisp and charming to the ear. Not at one point does Drape come across as forced, conceited, or trite; just a girl making happy, slightly oddball music in her room, and quite conveniently, it sounds pretty damn sweet.

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