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Album Review

The 2000s were a staggeringly productive period for Susumu Yokota. Starting off the decade by releasing one of his most gorgeous and enduring works, the majestically serene Sakura, he continued issuing albums at a rate of more than one per year, the majority of them forming a loose series of kindred but conceptually distinct explorations of similarly organic, generally hushed musical territory. As the decade drew to a close, the ever-industrious producer came up with yet another way to traverse that same terrain with Mother, his fifth release on Lo. It's not too much of a shakeup from his recent ways of doing things: for one thing, much of it continues his subtle preoccupation with triple-meter time signatures; for another, like much of his late-2000s output, it's an album of collaborations with vocalists, among them his Lo/Leaf labelmates Nancy Elizabeth, Casper Clausen of Efterklang, and Claire Hope and Panos Ghikas of the Chap, as well as Japanese singer Kaori and Yokota's frequent partner Caroline Ross. But despite being perhaps his most vocal-based and song-oriented record to date, it's also perhaps his calmest, most fully ambient outing since Sakura. Some tracks feel more than others like proper fully formed songs: the loungy bossa-like opener "Love Tendrilises," the Chap's subdued but typically curious "Tree Surgeon," and Nancy Elizabeth's "A Flower White," whose reliance on a looped acoustic guitar figure makes it one of the more pedestrian things here. But even on these more vocally overt pieces, Yokota's focus on texture and utterly relaxed pacing tends to eclipse the centrality of melody or compositional structure, making for a masterful sympathetic fusion of song and ambience. And without taking anything away from the fine contributions of his collaborators, Mother's most satisfying moments are those where the vocals are most fully subsumed into Yokota's hazy, limpid sonic meanderings, becoming just one textural strand among many. The album closes with its only fully instrumental piece, a Harold Budd-like solo piano meditation that resonates marvelously in its simplicity, in the way that even a fully enjoyable evening of socializing can make a later moment of solitude feel infinitely precious. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Born: Japan

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Susumu Yokota emerged in the early '90s as one of the most versatile and prolific electronic producers going. In his native Japan, he was known for many years as a top-tier dance music talent, specializing in all varieties of house while dabbling in techno, electro, and trance for the Sublime, Harthouse, and Planet Earth labels. Alternate aliases for his dance releases included Ringo, Prism, and Sonicstuff. While his dancefloor tracks were funky and playful with a heavy debt to epic disco -- he even...
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Mother, Susumu Yokota
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