Review: Kyoka – SH

r-n170 ArtworkThe six electronic pieces of SH were recorded/edited during sound checks and live performances. Compared to the studio – where hours and hours can be lost to the acts of revision and refinement – the performance environment is strictly adherent to the clock. The artist works within pre-defined times, often shaping their set around the duration granted to them. Further still, the real-time nature of performance lets everything through – even mistakes – and as such, the artist is often forced to “go with” the sudden misdirections of impulse, dragged into the dark by the twitches of their own subconscious. Such limitations can often bring a certain spontaneity and recklessness to the process, and SH definitely has an element of feeling on-the-fly: pulses slide out of time and slot into new syncopations, rattling noises cut out and abruptly plug back in again, downbeats drown amidst waves of colliding texture. I can hear Kyoka revoking the decisions of the immediate past; applying creative momentum to little kernels of happening; multi-tasking into a thumping, sliding, rasping frenzy.

Yet in true Raster Noton style, the chaos of SH is starkly contrasted with a synthetic precision. The individual textures are beautifully shaped; hexagons of electro-percussion and guillotine-cut rectangles of white noise, strikingly set against the sheer white of the digital canvas. Amidst the supposed bedlam of the present tense, I hear exquisitely EQ’d bass drums and reverbs dialled into exact diagonals of decay. Despite the feral energy that drives the rhythmic movement – sending “shush/hush” through horizontal shunts and contorted thrusts, pushing “hovering” down staircases of collapsing funk – Kyoka’s painstaking synthesis ensures an immaculate stereo picture every time, concealing preparatory winches and safety nets amidst the barrage of digital slapdash.