Even though Shugo Tokumaru records in his bedroom, his music can’t be called “lo-fi.” From L.S.T. onward, there’s been a gradual evolution in his work, and Port Entropy is his most professionally recorded album yet. It’s also his happiest-sounding, eschewing some of the darker corners that his earlier albums sat in from time to time. The album was released in Japan in April 2010, and its songs capture the happiness of being a child during springtime. “Rum Hee” twitters, chirps, and sparkles like the first warm day of the year; “Lahaha” mixes laughing and singing with insistent percussion, evoking the feel of running around outside as fast as possible; and “Suisha”'s wildflower folk-pop slows things down like the end of a perfect day. Given the happy tree and children on Port Entropy's cover and the cheeriness within, some listeners might worry that this is just too much joy for anyone with an age in the double digits. However, this isn’t the case. Though “Tracking Elevator” is unabashedly gleeful, Port Entropy isn’t full-on sugar -- nearly every track offers peaks and valleys in melody and energy, and melancholy still lurks at the edges at many of these songs. The Theremin on “Linne” adds a welcome eeriness to its bittersweet piano; likewise, the strange key changes on “Laminate,” and “Malerina”'s unexpected blue notes add a sophistication that keeps things from being too sweet. However, the real joy of listening to Port Entropy comes from experiencing how evocative its songs are, whether it’s the droning flutes and organs at the end of “Orange” that suggest a sunset giving way to night, “Drive Thru”'s clanking, tooting, and whistling capturing rush hour in a toy city, or the percolating Rube Goldberg-meets-Raymond Scott free for all of “River Low.” As creative as it is cheerful, Port Entropy just might be the most inviting welcome into Tokumaru's world yet.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares