One of the best bands of the 2000s Tokyo underground scene was synth-punk trio The Warm, and when they dissolved following 2006’s guitar-enhanced/tainted (delete as appropriate) full-length Fantastic Something, the Tokyo music world lost one of its most distinctive players. The return of The Warm’s Rikinari Hata in 2016 as Soloist Apartment is therefore a cause of some rejoicing to his old band’s tiny coterie of fans and admirers (including the band Code at No.18 in this countdown, who recruited Hata as a guest on their album). From the opening synth loop of Idiot Idiot, it’s clear that Hata is back in his early 80s minimal wave stamping grounds and every bit as comfortable there as he was ten years ago.
However, while Soloist Apartment is clearly playing amongst the same set of influences as The Warm (Liaisons Dangereuses, DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, early Mute Records) it is also clearly at the darker, more industrial end of that spectrum. From the start, it hits you with aggressively minimal beats and tetchy bursts of dentist’s drill synth noise, while Hata’s voice barks like an angry computer suffering from a bout of ennui. The only time this EP makes any sort of concession to prettiness is on the untitled third track, where the bass sequencer and soundscaping synth drones recall some of the more sublime moments of Cluster and Eno before fading away, replaced by the stuttering EBM of the closing Fu Tei.