Key – Pentimento


[Reviewed by stark]

I have a – perhaps unjustified and completely useless – theory that the less reverb there is in rhythm-based music, the more urban it is. “Pentimento” by Key is very close to the centre of a city. The cover picture is something that reminds me of a fragment from an old pavement, although I’m not 100% sure of that. Either way we’re talking about a big and modern metropolis full of working machines and flashing lights, but not very largely populated. At least not by humans. A system which is perfectly working, but soulless, consisting of a myriad cogs and microcircuits.

Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Key comes from Japan where such a vision is probably the closest to the truth, even though those megacities are still full of people-ants. The person behind the project is Maiko Okimoto, a girl from Utsunomiya and “Pentimento” is her full-length debut released by Empiric Records from Germany. So yes, it is based on intricate rhythm parts, mostly slow and mid-tempos, and buzzes, glitches and micronoises in the background. Heavy on synthetic drums, but barely danceable, even though you could call it IDM-ish with a slight industrial feeling. It’s turbulent and pulsating like an artificial heart – one would think that it was actually recorded by some android, with a good artistic software uploaded, but the last track gets more atmospheric, with nice synth textures, flute and piano sounds. Which is quite good, because for a moment I thought Maiko had a chrome engine instead of heart.

Still, is it unique? Not really. Don’t think it was Maiko’s intention to create something to be remember ed for ages. I mentioned the “Pentimento” urban connotation and after a while it got to me, that to a certain degree it is quite close to what Amir Baghiri did on his Seele sideproject album called “Berlin”. That one had more atmospheric sequences though. Maiko abandons the human/nature aspect completely, for her the the synthetic perfection is most important. Some may love it, others may find it too austere. I think it’s well made, but with its over an hour duration it gets a bit tiresome at some point. It could use one or two intermezzos in the vein of “Dynamic Equilibrium”, the last track. But maybe I’m simply too humane for this kind of music?

Empiric Records, emrec 9
CD/Digital 2016

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