Berlin-based Project Mooncircle began the year with a beautifully boxed 15th Anniversary Compilation. Fans of the label received the lavish set as a celebration; newcomers received it as an overture, hoping to hear more from the 39 artists collected in its grooves. Three appeared this spring, as albums arrived from Parra for Cuva, Nuage, and now Kafuka, whose understated “Surface” remains one of the highlights from that set.
The Osaka artist otherwise known as Eshima Kazuomi offers a distinct brand of IDM that combines soft pads and hard beats, heavy on handclaps and bells. There’s something a bit angular about these tracks, as the beats refuse to match up to 4/4 expectations; and therein lies the appeal. In order to appreciate the beauty of these tracks, one must turn the head sideways, as if admiring an asymmetrical tree. Laws of Nature inspires new ways of dancing: sudden and stuttered, yet with a steady flow. Fragments of voices swoop in and out of the mix, as if commenting upon the music, then being captured and inspiring comments of their own. Field recordings of traffic and precipitation grant the music an outdoor feel, which makes the timing of the release perfect for the warm weather. While we chose “Saunter” for our chart Ten Tracks That Sound Like Summer, any of these seven tracks could have filled that spot. The music is highly intelligent and brightly toned. One can imagine stretching one’s hands toward the sky, appreciating the overflow of color and sound. The cover indicates movement and flight, extraneous feathers falling as the wings flap.
Impeccably crisp mastering makes every sound pop. Even when multiple sources converge, as they do on “Fine Rain”, one is able to appreciate them separately as well as alone. Cinema and club elements mingle, sharing the same glasses, passing canapés to each other while complimenting each other’s taste. To listen is to wonder at sparkles and glints, mica and glass. Though the guitar-laced closer is titled “Forget Me Not”, there was no need to ask; Kafuka is one we’ll remember. (Richard Allen)