Top 20 Releases of 2012: No.11 – Deltas – √DL_TS 2

√DL_TS 2

CD, self-released, 2012

Fukuoka is by far my favourite place in Japan to discover new bands, because you can guarantee that whenever you find something good there (and there is a lot of good stuff there, especially right now), you can pretty much guarantee that it’s good in a way that you didn’t expect, and that the people behind it will have sometimes subtly and sometimes extravagantly different approaches even to familiar genres and sounds compared to how things are done in Tokyo. In fact, perhaps due to its relative remoteness, the position that Fukuoka occupies in the Japanese music scene is similar to the position Japan has traditionally occupied in the world — the remote outpost where they do things differently.

Deltas are an electronic/noise guitar duo who combine noise, industrial, Warp Records-style ambient electronic music, and sweet, shoegaze-influenced melodies, and √DL_TS 2 is an awe-inspiring, dizzyingly inventive work that is at once defiantly avant-garde and shamelessly accessible, and sounds like absolutely nothing else in the country at this time.

ce3.50 is a snowstorm of harsh electronic noise interspersed with discordant bleeps and brutal arrhythmic beats, but it gives way quickly to the decidedly ambient, atmospheric and rather moving rain_/℃ without letting go of any of the elements that made the opener such a brutal assault on the senses. Deltas keep the beats, but slow them down and move the noise into the background, bringing gently chiming, harmonic elements to the fore, before, after waiting until half way through the track, vocals are introduced and it blooms into a sublime, My Bloody Valentine-esque melody.

xt/qm is seven minutes of eerie effects, samples and ambient noise, juxtaposing organic sounds like insects chirping and rainfall in the early segment with harsher, more mechanical sounds — TV static, distorted, automated vocal announcements and computer bleeps — like the soundtrack to a paranoid cyberpunk detective noir. pls_47 picks up where the opening track left off, ramping the effects back up to bleeding ears level, although employing it in the more structured framework of a thundering, industrial noise venture and even diverting into dance beats. Needless to say, both are beautiful pieces of music.

The final two tracks, 5-gatsu no [sakana]/// and 5-gatsu no [sakana]/// (Ichinose D Nozomi), are two different versions of the same song. Bearing notable similarities to Radiohead’s No Surprises, as well as recalling some of the more downbeat moments of Japanese alternative bands Supercar and Quruli’s early 2000s electronic explorations, the first version is the straighter of the two, with the latter incorporating more hyperactive, skittering underlying beats and electronic effects.

√DL_TS 2 should be the album you play to all potential friends, work colleagues and romantic partners as a way of pre-filtering their suitability. If they exhibit any response other than curling up into a quivering, foetal ball on the floor and weeping with joy, then you should have nothing to do with them.

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