Syun – Landscapes / Kun Mae on a Calculation

4 out of 5

Label: DIW

Produced by: Susumu Hirasawa

Note: These are two separate Syun releases, combined as Disc 14 in the Haldyn Dome boxset, which is how I listened to them.  As such, they’re rated together, as one experience.

The remaining Syun recordings, from 1994 (Landscapes) and 1996 (Kun Mae).

OOPARTS was a very interesting collection, but as Syun started as something of a side project from P-Model, it bore notes of that: it felt experimental, and, similarly, as Susumu Hirasawa masquerading under a different name to exorcise some musical curiosities.  Landscapes and Kun Mae, on the other hand, feel much more realized; they definitely wouldn’t fit in with Susumu’s solo albums, or P-Model – for sure – while, of course, bearing some marks of his sounds.  They’re also very much apart from OOPARTS’ emphasis on samples and loops, favoring more of an ambient vibe, even stretching into drone on Landscape, for what I’d actually consider one of the collection’s most compelling tracks.  At points, moreso on Kun Mae, this leans into a dismaying house vibe – chill beats, pleasant keys, airy vocals.  This may owe to – and I could be way off here – the album having a live component, as sudden bursts of Hirasawa layering or Sim / Siren-type vocals / effects will suddenly liven things up before sinking into the background, meaning that the recording of these tracks may just be pushing the house elements to the fore.  The live? question is based on an overheard audience, though maybe that’s just a sample… but it’s rather irrelevant: it’s how these recordings are heard, and so it’s how they come across.

These are stray musings.  The overall effect of this set is a mesmerizing one.  The average runtime of a track is 7 to 8 minutes (with a few beyond that), but it’s never boring; Susumu takes his time nursing and morphing rumbles and electronica over synths or soft beats, slow and slower on Landscapes, and then with something of a relieved, joyous sigh on Kun Mae.  It’s not quite like any of his other recording styles, but bears the attentiveness of some of his best work.