Review of Kashiwa Daisuke's album '5 Dec' released through Noble Records on 22nd February 09.
After the departure of Worlds End Girlfriend from their roster Kashiwa Daisuke has become the focal point of Tokyo-based Noble Records, Japan's equivalent to Constellation. But where the home of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Do Make Say Think among others was built on a community dedicated to collaboration and tired politics the backbone of Noble Records is relentless experimentation and personal boundary pushing. 5 Dec, Kashiwa's third full-length, is the label's epiphany; a defining moment Constellation has become too incestuous to reach.
Yet for an album of such breathtaking innovation and exhilarating pace 5 Dec is by no means a quick thrill. It requires attention and patience, opening with a testing seven-minute mural of well-spaced guitar swells and quaint piano taps. Twenty seconds later however its existence is not even a fleeting thought, it is merely a quiet before the storm.
'Requiem' is an almost unfathomable explosion of sound; a musical House Of Leaves with an infinite number of ever-changing paths, expanses and eventual dead ends. Critical fingers will point to Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, or even fellow countryman Merzbow, but here Daisuke has created something several dimensions above the work of his predecessors.
Several minutes can be lost trying to find an encompassing genre classification or even a vague descriptive. 'Drum & Bass'? Sure, the fractured beats and samples fit the mould, but what is held here is hideously organic; it's alive. Meticulously crafted sure but not in a way that sacrifices emotion for perfection. 'Post-Rock'? If we take the term literally this might be the next progressive step for alternative music; thinking as the box instead of in or out of it, but too many sheet-thin copyists have been painted with this brush to coat such an original work with. 'Dance'? If epilepsy is indeed dancing then this may be a perfect soundtrack, as horrifically rhythmic as it is.
'Taurus Prelude' follows soon after. It uses Portishead's 'Machine Gun' as a ghost circuit, but instead of building suspense it falls into cartoony organ-grinder montages and 300-BPM drum loops, which eventually fade out as dark, splintered dubstep basslines force their way in. The next track has begun but here each 0:00 is purely for chapter selection; the album's movement is constant and not limited to a singular dominant idea-per-track structure.
Noble's tagline for it's releases is 'Music for daily life'. As odd has this seemed before now the catchphrase seems almost ludicrous. There is nothing typical or regular about 5 Dec, and it is certainly not an album that can be thrown on in any situation. It is, however, one of 2009's most ambitious full-lengths to date, and one that deserves to make Kashiwa a focal point not just within Noble Records but the world of experimental, boundaryless music.