Review of Letter Of Sounds [12k1038]

The Wire (UK)

Fourcolor is one of the various projects of Japanese electronicist Keiichi Sugimoto, whose work ranges from the elctroacoustic experimentation of his Minamo quartet, through the Ambient dronescapes of his 2004 album Water Mirror, to poppier work as Filfla. Letter Of Sounds is informed by all three approaches and is a low-key delight.

The first half of the album focuses on bright, accessible pieces that extract bouncy microgrooves from the rhythmic pops and clickcs of rigorously chopped and edited instrumentation, most obviously guitar. “02” sets these itchy rhythmic pulses against a backdrop of dancing guitar harmonics and dreamy, slightly detuned chords that recall the blurred ambience of Ken Ishii’s best work. Sugimoto’s melodic sensibility has some of the pristine classicism of No 9 and Naoko Sasaki alias Piana, whose wraithlike vocal presence on “Rowboat” is characteristically lovely and slightly odd.

While not quite matching the standard of these two opening tracks – though “Fountain,” with its silky, miniature House manoeuvres comes close – the remainder of the album does offer some quietly radiant mood pieces. The latter stretches are darker and more fragmentary, with the 14 minute minimalist sketch “Leaves” consisting of little more than a single feedback drone and irregular chordal smears and distrubances. Like the album as a whole, it’s a simple pleasure, but no less of one for that.

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