On paper, you might assume an album structured from old Nintendo game sounds and 1990â€™s-era VSTs would be cheeky chiptunes- but this DurÃ¡n VÃ¡zquez album is nothing of the sort. â€˜Hikikomoriâ€™ is social reclusion and while the atmosphere here is insular, and isolated, this isnâ€™t the sound of somebody playing computer games. This is tense drone soundscape work- beatless, hollow, resonant, drawn-out synthetic tones with washes and twinkles.
The work has two sides, LP-style. On the first side, there are five tracks, four of which share the same name, â€œSolus Ipseâ€. The first of these has a glass-like wailing tones at the top end are so harsh that they are sometimes painful, telling you this work wonâ€™t function as an ambient chillout affair, the second introduces gradually crescendoing notes of tension and confusion. The third is more mellow, with distant string-like ebbs and occasional fragile percussive sounds. Brief interlude â€œKoroshiyaâ€ brings a hint of ethnic flute tonality, before the final â€œSolus Ipseâ€ revisits the earlier disquiet.
The second side is a single 26-minute work, â€œSegunda Natureza (trebÃ³n, paxaros, electrostÃ¡tica)â€, where the retro-chiptune sounds are really heard. This is mostly a more playful piece, still essentially a drone base but lighter, with arpeggio patterns, 8-bit-style percussive moments and occasional single-step bass notes akin to having somebody in the next room playing a classic NES. Moods do shift throughout, with some sections more sombre and the latter sections more sparse, but this piece manages to feel both more unique and more inventive.
Itâ€™s an album of two halves in which the second half is more recommendable than the first, but overall itâ€™s a noteworthy take on the solitary drone soundscape form. Stuart Bruce
via Chain DLK