KAZUMICHI KOMATSU is a Japanese electronicist and multi-media artist who you can place quite firmly in a grand tradition of sonic playfulness and interrogation that also includes microsound artist Ryoji Ikeda (with whom he’s shared a stage – as well as The Field and Julia Holter) and the free-roaming IDM of Susumu Yokota.
He’s been releasing seductive, woozy electronica for a few years now, most prominently under his alias Madegg, as whom he put out a brace of albums for the Flau imprint, 2013’s Kiko and 2015’s New, chock with raw, primitivist and beguiling techno.
It’s only in the past three years or so that he’s come out from behind that nom-de-plume and begun to release material as strictly himself, with a number of digital and cassette single releases; but now he’s sculpted a very fine album of soundscapery for Flau, his debut as it were, Emboss Star.
And today at Backseat Mafia we’re delighted to be premiering a track from that album: “Orca”. Take a listen below. It’s a beautifully otherly soundscape of fine glitch, expansive washes, piano, the human voice; eerie, pristine and exploratory; deep listening.
Emboss Star comes with just that as its cover art, created by Komatsu on a 3-D printer. The album as a whole is necessarily informed by his earlier EPs, as well as fine art installations and live appearances – seeing how his soundworld goes down with people in the round; it’s take four years for him to refine and put together, a process he describes as “like arranging the pieces on a chess board; every piece strategically placed.”
One interesting aspect of Emboss Star is an almost Brechtian self-referral to the mechanics of playback: there’s references to the static chatter of a worn record, even the jumps and skips; the sudden, torrential bubbling whirl of a cassette in rewind.
Many of the components and indeed conscious effects of Embossed Star are of an ambient nature, and thus intended to draw you into a bliss, a reverie; but then there’s other elements of the sound that rail against a state of absolute chill – such as those rewind and jumps above. Intentional, of course; Komatsu conceives of the record as mimicking not just the tranquility of a dream, but its inevitable disturbance.
We’ve been living with the album a little while here at Backseat Mafia, and keep finding new layers to its staticky warmth, it’s deep dream textures; its IDM-folk explorations and sudden lurches into other woozy states.
And what of the track we’re premiering, “Orca” itself?
Komatsu says: ‘‘’Orca’ was composed between 2018 and summer 2019. As with much of Emboss Star, the track is thematically orientated around the idea of folklore in contemporary reality.
“In this particular instance I had in mind how the migration of the orca, a route that covers 60 miles a day, acts as a connective chain between the folklore of different regions, places which all have their own tales and myths associated with the Orca whale. Locations as far and wide as Patagonia, Alaska and [the Hokkaidō peninsula] Shiretoko”.
Kazumichi Komatsu’s Embossed Star will be released by Flau digitally on November 11th. with vinyl to follow in the spring. You can pre-order your copy from the Flau Bandcamp page, here.