A name like ‘An Epic Label’ necessitates music bold enough to justify it. I first became aware of the label with ’Pathways’, a striking EP from neo-minimalist producer Martin Thompson. At the time, this marked a conspicuous departure from Thompson’s earlier work. The early forays on his own label, SM-LL, are intense and difficult. But this was melodic, layered, accessible. An Epic seems to be the place in which artists can do this — to express a hitherto undisclosed side of themselves.
Over the past few months, Japanese artist Durusin has been pushing his sound into faster tempos under a new moniker: Soo. These experiments are much darker, closer to the murky world of Hidden Hawaii than the HD sheen of SM-LL. But his latest release contains yet another departure, this time into some wonky, lopsided experimental hip-hop. And when musicians digress, ‘An Epic’ accommodates.
Take the opener, ‘Cut’. The beats on this are constantly wrong-footing. They clamber forward with uncertain determination, like a toddler’s first steps. There’s also ‘Lp38’ and ‘Wan’: snapshots of atmosphere overdriven with cassette-tape crunch. One thing that’s refreshing about this release is its brevity. Someone like Vladislav Delay or Jan Jelinek may have stretched these jams out to ten minutes or more. But Durusin makes his peace and moves on with haste.
This is what romantic composer Eric Satie would have deemed ‘furniture music’. Though not in contempt. It isn’t ‘furniture’ in the sense of being superfluous or decorative. But in the sense that it doesn’t impose itself on your personal space. It creates instead a landscape that you can belong to. It exists not to grab your attention, but to colour the air.