Yokan System: Sasurai Tutu Sasayaku / Tete

Yokan System are a new electronic duo formed by Tsukasa and Mai from psychedelic postpunk/alternative band Praha Depart. They’ve been jamming and experimenting as a duo on and off for a long time now in between Praha Depart’s semi-regular jaunts to Europe and the United States but with Yokan System they seem to have formalised their project and these two tracks are the fruit.Sasurai Tutu Sasayaku

Both Sasurai Tutu Sasayaku and Tete are built around looping melodies, with the former track taking Tsukasa’s cascading guitar line, a repetitive synth chime and adding Mai’s overlapping, chanting vocals over the top of a stumbling beat. Tete forges ahead and builds relentlessly to the end where Sasarai allowed the beat to drop out for a moment before the climax, adding a more straightforward and insistent dance beat with bass synth straight out of the gloomiest days of the late 70s and early 80s (think The Human League’s Being Boiled). There are clear parallels with Liz Fraser’s layers of unearthly vocals in The Cocteau Twins (Yokan System would sit well on 4AD’s 80s roster, while Praha Depart would fit in better with its 90s lineup), as well as perhaps interesting echoes of Japanese composer Yoko Kanno’s 90s diversions into eastern European choral music, which stands in contrast to Mai’s emotionally raw delivery when singing with Praha Depart. In that sense, Yokan System are a side project in the very best sense of the word, complimenting the members’ other work and neither seeking to replace it nor contenting itself to sit in its shadow.Tete

1 Comment

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One response to “Yokan System: Sasurai Tutu Sasayaku / Tete

  1. I have no way of knowing what Yokan System was influenced by on the way to these works, but I hear a distant echo of not only the musical means, but the aesthetic and feel of an art-music movement from way back, the Minimalism of Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. Because the technology has advanced so far now in enabling musicians to set up and use loops as layers of texture, many musicians can experiment with the technique now. In 1964 (!) it sounded like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjR4QYsa9nE. As “aleatoric” music, it is intended to loop the same materials differently every time. You do get the shifting-textures effect from Riley’s piece, but it sound pretty sterile to many listeners (like me) compared to other examples of art music produced at the time. I really warmed up to the style when Laurie Anderson put vocals and eletronic processing onto her loops, as in her ‘O Superman’ from 1981: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VIqA3i2zQw. The sound of the human voice has a near-indestructible claim on our attention and emotions–it’s what I like best about the Yokan tracks above. The contrast between the literal loops occurring underneath and the loose, free-form singing above completely wakes up and justifies the style, for my ears. Terry Riley’s piece eventually bludgeon’s the listener’s ears and attention with its unrelieved instrumental textures, even if they do shift gradually. It’s ONLY the departure from the art-music ghetto and its entry into the pop-music innovators’ world that makes this kind of music work.

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