Koji Asano

Solstice

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AllMusic Review by

Koji Asano's first album is literally a mixed bag. A couple years later he would come to focus his releases on very specific ideas, but his early efforts are inhabited by the impetuosity of youth and a desire to "put it all in" -- little did he know he would come to record dozens of albums. Nevertheless, Solstice (the title would later become the name of his record label) makes a good record of experimental instrumental music (which is not the same as his later sound art). The material varies from sound collages to electronic music and instrumental experimental rock. Asano plays guitar, piano, percussion, and synthesizers. Pieces like the title track and "'N'" already illustrate the idiosyncratic personality of this one-of-a-kind composer, but there are some misses too. The ping-pong playing track in "Flowers" gets tiresome and fails to make a point. "Spiral Intelligence," a pure analog electronics piece, arches back to early synth music (Tangerine Dream, Synergy), but lacks an identity of its own. Finally, the superimposition of a gentle piano motif with a heavy metal electric guitar riff in "Magnetic Storm" is a little bit too easy for its own good. On the other hand, the backward sounds and guitar solo in "Hybrid Evolution" held more promises, building a bridge from Robert Fripp to Keiji Haino (by way of Eugene Chadbourne). What would come to be known as Asano's "main signature" appears at the very end of the album in the form of "Total Eclipse." The gritty synthesizers sound somewhat clumsy, but they show Asano was already hearing in his head (and attempting to reproduce) later works like Autumn Meadow and The Last Shade of Evening Falls. Solstice almost works like a "pre-sampler" album, a selection of music not yet completed.

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