‘SH’, the latest release from Berlin-based Kyoka is full of kinks and twists. The release follows on two years from her stunningly creative Is (Is Superpowered) LP on Raster-Noton, and makes a noted sonic departure from this material.
In previous works Kyoka has expressed an interest in Dada style singing when writing her tracks, improvising lyrics in a stream-of-consciousness before chopping, processing and rearranging these samples. The effect is to remove these improvisations from their original context even further. The titles included in this latest release give a nod to this linguistic freeness. Tracks like ‘smash/hush’ or ‘susurrus’ provide onomatopoeic representations of their constituent sounds.
‘Susurrus’ opens the EP, clambering from the blackness like baby spiders tumbling from their nest. Ruptured static tones and groaning drones flare up intermittently, dull bleeps and plodding dub grounding the track. The former posses a similarly gritten, crawling aesthetic. Languid half-step drums and off-kilter snares are punctuated by Kyoka’s quivering, vaporous soundscapes. As the track progresses these textures grow in strength and ferocity, rising to an earth-trembling climax.
At times, ‘SH’ feels reminiscent of some of T++’s more stripped back experiments. Take ‘shush’ for example, bouncing between pressure-blasted snares and shuddering stamps of low-end. Kyoka uses oddball sonic artefacts and modem style interference to piece together melodies, bumping thrusts of low-end driving the track forward endlessly. This trick is employed similarly skillfully across the skittish ‘hovering’. Digitized chimes and tonal glitches provide an uncanny riff alongside Kyoka’s gliding, metallic hi-end and bursts of low-end.
The release makes up one of Kyoka’s most raw, hollowed out records to date, removing her signature vocals and laying her beatific granular experiments bare. In this pursuit she has contributed one of her most typically Raster-Noton-esque records to date, and with great skill and precision too. This said, this doesn’t come at the expense of losing the offbeat humour which characterised previous releases: retaining her stylistic quirks even while taking a reductionist approach to her work.