5kai – Untitled #2

Originally from Kyoto but these days based in Tokyo, 5kai are a raw, taut, minimalist and decidedly Albini-esque alt-rock band who sit in a meandering but identifiable lineage of disconcerting rock that runs back through bands like Slint and This Heat. Their self-titled 2018 debut album was a strong statement of intent, and since then they seem to be on a course of releasing annual reports in the form of digital EPs that have seen them digging further into this vein of rough-edged post-hardcore and progressive rock. Despite the sparse instrumental setup, Untitled #2 covers a range of sonic ground with the tight drum sound and studio polish of second track Ato standing in contrast to the creatively deployed lo-fi aesthetics of the closing Jazz — a track that gnaws a groove of its own around your brain on repeat listens, with sounds that start out feeling like mistakes or accidental sonic artifacts becoming essential parts of the music through repetition. As with its equally-untitled 2019 predecessor, Untitled #2 carries a sense of exploration around the core of the sound 5kai established on their album, maintaining their identity as they prod with curiosity at the edges. They’re working towards something and even the band themselves seem uncertain but interested to discover what it is.

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