Please ignore the connotations of the title and the moniker. This is neither a hip-hop album nor a collection of club anthems, but a melodic blend of post-rock and modern composition, and one of the year’s undiscovered gems. Abandon Building Records is known for quietly signing some blinders, and last surprised us with Origamibiro, who recently followed up last year’s Shakkei with a remix disc, including (you guessed it) K-Conjog. But this is Fabrizio Somma’s year, and Set Your Spirit Freak! may come across as a gift to those who were less than pleased with the latest Sigur Rós album. This one has drums in addition to the glockenspiels and orchestras, and it exudes a quiet humour. There’s lots of samples (the album is bold enough to begin with birds) and lovely piano twinkles that sound like the broken edges of cardboard stars.
K-Conjog is apparently a patient man, and his approach to songwriting brings to mind the work of Diamond Gloss, another artist fond of glockenspiels and extended cuts. This patience allows songs to unfold as suites, never more effective than on the serene “Mono No Aware”, which progresses from a keyboard piece to an electronic beatscape to an orchestral heart-tugger over the course of ten lulling minutes. In similar fashion, “Thinking About Robin” introduces a swaggering beat at its midpoint, long after the strings have subsided and the siren has finished her song. When many of these elements reemerge, they do so in an amplified manner befitting their stature.
A lightness of tone is reflected in the acoustic strumming, the children’s squeals, the “oo’s” and the seamless transitions both between and within songs. The artist wants the album to flow, and makes sure that it does by rubbing down the rough edges until they are smooth to the touch. This sanding down makes Set Your Spirit Freak! easy to approach, a friendly beast in a smooth white helmet, cooing and beeping his way into a stranger’s heart. Listeners may not exactly freak, but they will likely be caught off guard by the intelligent beauty of this unassuming release. (Richard Allen)