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5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (4 Oct. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lo Recordings
  • ASIN: B003X5ODCK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 269,698 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

BBC Review

Since his magnificent Sakura (2000) and Grinning Cat (2001) albums the electronic music world has been in thrall to Japan’s Susumu Yokota, a laptop composer whose prolific output of at least one album every year since 1998 is at odds with his compelling creations. When so much of today’s dashed-off ambient music comes off as characterless, indistinguishable and meaningless burble, Yokota shows the way. Not that he should thank us for calling this hour-long opus ambient.

Yokota has released techno, breakbeat, even funky commercial house down the years and it’s this broad-ranging, never-say-never attitude that the spoddy electronicist summons here for an album that’s perfectly impossible to categorise. Eschewing the quasi-classical trance and strict minimalism that’s been cited as a major influence by the terrific Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds and others in that fine field of modern ambient, Yokota knits together an album that’s altogether more fun, demented, freewheeling, colourful, narcotic and oddly human.

It’s certainly not background music. As if to dispel any fears that it might be, Kaleidoscope’s three opening tracks provide a vivid introduction to this gently-applied but rampant eclecticism. Your Twinkling Eyes, with its overlapping, looping acoustic guitars and prismatic chimes, suggests a sort of Far Eastern Caribou; the unsettling avant-clang and ghostly choral sounds of Her Feminineness awakens a sense that it’s not all sunshine and fluffy white clouds here; and 9 Petals is a child-friendly romp built on what sounds like the rhythmic, chugging loop of a fairground ride and features the same alchemy of electronics, sax-parping and chanting that Moondog nailed and which Johnny Truck won over fans of freaky music with on his fabulous Sister Woo track.

The chosen character worming its way through Yokota’s latest album – irrational, prone to mood swings and suffering (or benefitting) from synaesthesia – requires all his entrancing sounds, whether they’re odd, beguilingly beautiful or nerve-fraying. And this seamless patchwork of sunny psych-pop, leftfield clatter, shadowy two-step, harmony-based euphoria, Steve Reich minimalism and kaleidoscopic melodies is so much more emotionally walloping and relevant than all the perennially downbeat, whoosh-and-sigh whale music that gives ambient a bad name.

--Chris Parkin

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This album sees a natural, if unpredictable, progression of Yokota's music. It is certainly as, if not more, experimental than his previous releases. Though electronic, Kaleidescope is more rooted in the patterns of music more familiar to the house/dance genre in general than the more oriental themes displayed in works like The Boy and the Tree. It is funky, thought-provoking and apparently conscious-expanding music, with a celestial/cerebral tone. (The whimsical is still here, though, see: 'Sprouting Symphony'!) Less rigid in textures than earlier work, it sounds like he is seeking a solution to his musical language. Each track has a life of its own, and whilst maybe this is a less consistent work, it reveals that Yokota is still exploring the boundaries and qualities inherent in his approach. This album retains a formula evident in earlier work, starting with more accessible and up-beat tracks and concluding on a meditative theme, here entitled Red Moon, which is one of the best tracks. `9 Petals' is a favourite. Maybe this album has more to say than other work, yet it seems more scattered, less defined. Is it more dreamy, more pensive than his other work? Not sure, this one seems like it will provoke different reactions in different people. Just as a kaleidescope offers the different colourful aspects of many things contained in one, so does this collection. I would give it 4.5 stars, but seems to get better with each listen. Great organic electric music.
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By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Dec. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Sometimes less is more. Sometimes less is so full
of the world that we can only smile inwardly in the
knowledge that what we are receiving is doing us good.

Kaleidoscope, the most recent album by Japanese
electronic composer Susumu Yokota, is a lesson in what
beauty can be drawn from the very smallest elements and
to say that these sixteen compositions are beautiful is
both an inadequate description and an understatement.

This is music to make our senses tingle with the stark
immediacy of being. Waking dreams which sooth and heal.

It is quite impossible to remove any one piece from the
context of the whole and make it come any more alive with
words. The beats are gentle, unobtrusive, kinetic pulses;
the vocal fragments, gentle ghosts whispering to one another
across the chasms of timeless and ambiguous space; the
non-linear melodic development uncompromising and mystifying;
the map always less than the territory evoked. Simply sublime.

Let this music into your heart and listen.
It truly does make life a tiny bit better.

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