4 out of 5
Label: Polydor / Teslakite
Produced by: Susumu Hirasawa
Beautiful and bizarre, Susumu Hirasawa’s first solo album has a bit of an identity disorder – stitched together from some unreleased P-Model material (of which the struggles to get it released partially prompted the solo outing), re-recorded early tracks, and a repurposed Mandrake theme for the title instrumental – but, with the kooky spirit of his prior work thus sprinkled throughout, that fracturing can be said to be part and parcel of Hirasawa’s musical approach.
Released just as we were rolling into the 90s, the album has an interesting cross-generational composition of electronic, acoustic, and rock sounds, while the majority of it was, apparently, synth-contrived. But for however much of this material may have been focused around a particular instrument, the disc’s aural palette is rich and exciting: burbling with odd machine and nature sounds that are repeated and repurposed for beats, or for musical flourish. And for every surprisingly pastoral or choral moment – Root of Spirit; Skeleton Coast Park – there’s something completely insane or noisy, stuffed with twists and turns and stops and starts and an amazing amount of nuance for something borne of the 80s… if you weren’t already attuned to that from P-Model.
Again, some of this up and down nature prevents the debut from hanging together seamlessly; you can very much hear the different mindsets butting up against one another. But it’s also never boring as a result, as if you’re not so in to Hirasawa’s more gentle, pastoral moments, there’s undoubtedly something different just a track away.
The Haldyn Dome boxset version of this features one alternate version of a track (Solar Ray, one of this disc’s most raucous and best songs, and so a joy to hear twice) and a version of a song from a couple albums later, Virtual Rabbit.