Review: Sourin – Kakyou-佳境

There is serenity on Kakyou – 佳境. Even when distorted drums and bass are ripping a hole through the album’s midriff, the stereo edges remain tranquil – little flowers of unfurling piano and guitar and chime, sometimes with choral voices poured over like water. At these edges, Sourin pays tribute to nature’s eternal return as samples loop back round to their beginnings, cycling between blooming and wilted decay and re-blooming, synchronised to the central rhythm but undaunted by its visceral boisterousness. Melodically, these instruments also wield a perpetual movement, chasing a harmonic resolution that just barely slips beyond the fingertips, hovering mere inches above a state of closure. The effect is kaleidoscopic. These whirling multicolour circles are built from even smaller whirling multicolour circles, dragging blotches of purple across swathes of sun-yellow and blood-red, disguising hundreds of tiny symmetries within the illusion of chaos.

On first listen, I feel like I’m held in this cyclical state for too long. I chase the end for eight minutes when five would have sufficed. It’s exhausting to tolerate the the recurrent blow of the bass drum for that long; to feel the serration of distorted cymbals against my neck. It’s not so much an invite to dance as a brute-force instruction, grabbing my arms and swaying them on my behalf, squeezing so hard that my wrist goes numb. But then, in that numbness of persistence – beyond the point at which my instincts tell me to stop – I find the transcendence that resides deep within Kakyou – 佳境. Gradually, the notion of “too long” disappears into a disregard for duration altogether. I cease to feel dizzied by those spinning guitars as I dispose of all notions of up and down. All the while, the album pushes into the red, then into the white, then into a colour I’ve never even seen before.