Tuesday, August 2, 2011

REVIEW// Nakagin: Elsewhere EP

     There is surprisingly little information that I can find on Nakagin. I gather that he's a nineteen year old Australian by the name of Hugh Luscombe, but the limits of Google are being deliberately, well, limiting. This review is on his free EP, which I've been eyeing up for a while now, 'Elsewhere'. And trust me, it's an EP. Weighing in at just over sixteen minutes, this is short and sweet electronica, composed of six tracks.  He has released another, eleven track compilation of rough, half finished numbers, but I'm taking this as his proper debut. Looking at the number of songs in 'Elsewhere', you'd be right in assuming the majority float under three minutes, but a couple manage to run to four. The sound hidden within such a sort time is creatively and sonically rich however, which adds to that twinge of disappointment when it ends. Being the length it is does allow its impact to stay intact throughout without losing it's edge, but yeah, it's a slight shame that it couldn't have run for longer. That being said, it's a wonderful experience while it lasts. The texture has been drawn from ambient music, creating soundscapes busy, brilliant and breath-taking.
     The title track doubles as the opener, and features Marcus Whale from similar Australian outfit Collarbones. It's the only song here with vocals (not counting sampled sounds), even if said words are barely distinguishable. As the longest number, I'm surprised Nakagin chose to use it as a means to kick the EP off, but then it does introduce the sound he's trying to emulate extremely well. There is a technique that Luscombe uses extremely well here, by turning the muffle on and off. Try putting a song on through your speakers, and then repeatedly covering and uncovering your ears. You'll get some idea of what this track sounds like. At first, I was cautious as to how well this would play out, but I was genuinely intrigued by the result. By keeping subtle sounds clear throughout, there is an anchor of sorts. Nakagin also, after a period of this fluctuating clarity, turns the muffle off. You're suddenly hit with this very tranquil atmosphere broken in part by sampled voices, and bizarrely, it remains enjoyable even on your third or fourth listen.
     'Raincoats' is similar, bar the vocals. A tinkling sound runs though the track, with again, very, very subtle talking audible in the distance. One part sounds like you're underwater, and another clear ending leads into 'Snow Statue'. Heavy breathing and claps make for a more solid and sturdy rhythm from which the surreal melody can be hung. 'Pachinko Slot Regret' is the most experimental track on 'Elsewhere', though it would probably be better to say most distinct, seeing as the whole six tracks are pretty avant-garde. A chiptune beeping flies above the shaking, clicking backing track, and an ending laden in 'ooh ooh cheeky cheeky's sounds unsurprisingly fresh. Coming to the last two numbers, I get the feeling that this review might lack in its usual length, but that can be expected when evaluating an EP, especially one merely sixteen minutes long. There's nothing in the last two tracks that stands out as being any different to the previous four, which is a shame.
     It highlights a major problem for me, in terms of how much original stuff Nakagin can put out, and keep putting out. At the moment, I get the impression that he found something undeniably great, and worked off that. By the end of the EP I was impressed by the production and skill of Luscombe, but came to the conclusion that perhaps the EP only being sixteen minutes wasn't a deliberate decision. Perhaps he ran out of ideas that would keep the listener interested for longer. Who know? I'll definitely check out his next release, and if it works for a longer time, you can all come back here and criticise my review! Until then, this is sweet, but a little too short to make it a good recommendation.

'Elsewhere Ft. Marcus Whale'