Koji Asano

The Giant Squid: A Collection of Short Pieces, Vol. 1

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Most of Koji Asano's albums consist of a single extended piece. And his work has constantly been forward-looking during his first decade of activity. So the release of this collection of short pieces salvaged from various creative sessions comes as a surprise. In the press release Asano explains that he wanted to finish and release these short pieces that haven't previously found a home on his CDs so he could move forward, into his second decade of music-making. As a paradoxical result, The Giant Squid is both the less characteristic of Asano's albums and the easiest access point to his soundworld. Here you have a cross-section of Asano's points of interests back in 1997-1998: short piano tracks recorded during the Monsoon sessions, analog synth experiments in the vein of Sunshine Filtering Through Foliage, feedback studies announcing the 1999 album Avalanches, and sampled string music that may be offering a glimpse at preparatory work for the four-CD extravaganza The Last Shade of Evening Falls. The Asano follower will find nothing surprising among these 14 tracks, but hearing all of these strands from the composer's weave shuffled together sure is a new experience. "The Giant Squid" (the longest piece at 15 minutes) along with the two shorter "Pudding Delivery Service" tracks synthesize the man's experiments with extreme or close-miked sound vibrations more convincingly than the aforementioned albums did. And the three "Spring Excursion" tracks, averaging three minutes in length, are more striking than the extended electro-acoustic works included on Vacant Land. This is the closest Asano could get to releasing a sampler without being accused of doing so. It is also the best entry-level introduction to his music he could produce. Of course, The Giant Squid does not open a door to all of his production (and the duration aspect, which occupies a large chunk of his puzzle, is completely ignored), but this section of it is enough to give an accurate taste of its diversity and oddly unique appeal. Highly recommended.

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