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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shinkiro - "Cycle of Rebirth"

Artist: Shinkiro
Album: Cycle of Rebirth
Year: 2015
Label: SSSM
Genre: Drone, Dark Ambient, Industrial
Website:  facebook.com/shinkiroofficial

After two self-released ambient albums and a fantastic split with Empusae on Ant Zen, Shinkiro returns with Cycle of Rebirth on Japanese imprint SSSM.

I enjoy Shinkiro because of his somewhat atypical approach to ambient music. I dig his heavy used of samples and sfx, along with his ability to make densely packed and dynamic tracks with something of a surrealist touch. Cycle of Rebirth is toned down a bit compared to his previous album, Reflection of Her Deepest Fear, but the positive qualities from that work appear here as well.  “1st Cycle” is a great droning track that utilizes a slowly moving minimal drone at its core, wrapped in layers of subtle sound effects that continuous swirl around it, constantly shifting and generating atmosphere. This is a great example of how to make interesting drone music that doesn't get monotonous or stagnant. “2nd Cycle” is similar, although the core drone feels like a plucked string stretched into infinity. This gives it both a distinctly Asian feel as well as a “meditational” vibe. While more subtle than the opener, this track also uses the technique of one main drone while other things softly swirl about in the background. The end of the track completely shifts gears and brings in almost martial style pounding drums and a strange floating melody. “3rd Cycle” is the most “experimental” piece so far and it brings to mind fellow Japanese composer Contagious Orgasm. This piece opens with noisy drones before plateauing into 80s cyberpunk feeling ambient with a strong Knight Rider-esque bassline. The background droning bits and sounds give this the feeling of a dystopian future metropolis at night. It builds over several minutes, adding excellent crunchy industrial drums before subsiding into murky drones for the last several minutes. “4th cycle” has more of a Tangerine Dream or thereabouts sound – dreamy analog pads and a floating melody over heavy low end drones. This one feels like endlessly floating through an abstract, but not unpleasant, dream. It’s the shortest on the album at only 4 minutes, yet the duration is perfect for the piece. The album closer “5th cycle” is similar to the third song in that it is lengthy and makes its way through several phases. It opens with haunting ambiance that feels like drifting through a world of distressed ghosts and spirits. It slowly builds, getting harsher and darker as it progresses. Towards the end, more industrial drums and a nebulous melody emerge and mesh perfectly with the aforementioned ghostly atmosphere.

Cycle of Rebirth is a refreshing change from the more minimal styles of drone that I usually get to review. Shinkiro does an excellent job at crafting an engaging work of ambient music that keeps you interested throughout its duration and includes various surprises along the way. It’s hard to fully articulate why, but I feel that the album has a markedly Japanese mythological / ghost / horror vibe to it. Definitely something for people looking for experimental Japanese music that is more on the ambient/drone side of the spectrum.

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