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Album Review

Susumu Yokota has a sort of binary career as both a respected house music DJ and a creator of experimental ambient recordings. Kaleidoscope is very much in the latter vein, a strange, aptly titled, and frequently gorgeous tapestry of loops, washes, chimes, and pulses that never has anything to do with dance music but makes frequent sonic reference to the traditions of electronica, dub, classical minimalism, and Brian Eno-style "discreet music." "Your Twinkling Light" combines shimmering loops with fragmented vocals to strangely moving effect; "Sprouting Symphony" is sweetly pretty; "Her Feminineness" throbs with an eerie darkness; "9 Petals" sways in waltz time, while an unidentified soul singer is played on a wind-up Victrola in the next room; "Patinated Room Key" sounds like the song of a cyborg whale gliding through the waves of an electronic sea. At various times there are samples of choral music (note in particular the sonically grandiose "Blue Moon," which defines an enormous aural space and gives you the feeling of attending Mass while orbiting the moon), and at others there are vocoder sounds so fragmented that they're barely recognizable as originating with a human voice. This is one of those albums you should listen to at least twice before deciding what you think of it, and when you do, you'll find that the second listen is substantially more entrancing than the first.


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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Kaleidoscope, Susumu Yokota
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