The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Maebashi Hannah Pezzack , May 10th, 2021 08:26

Under his new alias, Suemori, Hoshina Anniversary navigates the cultural iconography of Japan, synthesising traditional instruments into a haunting electronic format, finds Hannah Pezzack

On previous releases for YOUTH and Alien Jams, Hoshina Anniversary has charted his way through the classic sound of late 80s Japanese new wave, fused with fizzling acid and jazz-syncopated melodies. Maebashi expands upon the ground he’s laid, spinning off psychoactively into more experimental terrain, recalling the sonic-futurism of producers like Pedr Mannerfelt or Sockethead.

The album navigates its way through the cultural iconography of Japan – bonsai trees, traditional food like kaminari okoshi and obanzai, as well as the cityscapes of the Gunma Prefecture – all laden with murky, hallucinogenic resonance. The new moniker, “Suemori,” was dreamt up in collaboration with Osàre! Editions label boss, Elena Colombi. An inheritance from his grandfather, who passed away long before Hoshina was born, the name sets the haunted tone of Maebashi.

For the opening track ‘Obanzai,’ a vocal refrain is transformed into a percussive beat, overlaid with dripping water and shuddering, acrid loops. Throughout the record, Hoshina makes tantalising use of computerised speech and tactile samples, flexing an expert rhythmologist’s capacity to build dark, textual landscapes. Comprised of minimal, twisting components, ‘Bonsai’s lyrics repeat the phrase over and over, chugging into muddied electro. For ‘Suemori Desu’ – an abrupt twenty-second interval – a deep, hissing voice whispers the track title like an incantation, underscoring the ghostly presence of the titular character.

In his canonical book on sonic fictions, More Brilliant Than the Sun, Kodwo Eshun observed that electronic music production technology has spawned the ability to create “posthuman multiplication[s] of rhythm.” On Maebashi, the reverberatory echo of organic sound is hollowed out; clunky piano chords and lacey shakuhachi are partnered with pinched synthetic palpitations, taking on a sinisterly inhuman resonance. Modular fluctuations litter ‘Mekashikomu’, interspersed by the hypnotic plunk of a koto. This blending tactic comes together magically on the digital bonus ‘Zan Zan’, where a techno-pulse is strung over clattering symbols.

The shake of naruko, wooden hand clappers that are used in ceremonial dances, stab through the crux of ‘Kaminari Okoshi’, accompanied by the inhaling of breath and chanting. Midway, the melody shatters into bleeping fragments and utterances, punctuated by the dark clamour of an effect-drenched gong. Historically coded noise, melded with analogue synth, conjures otherworldly rituals; seances taking place between the deep past and spectral present.

Although indebted to the iconic acid squelch of the 303 Roland bass synth, the industrial gloom of dub and formless drone, Maebashi never quite settles within a single genre. Idiosyncratic and eerie, the record stretches out the potentialities of its acoustic instruments, injecting them with a cybernetic charge. The result resembles a sci-fi narrative of an ancient, phantasmic entity that has taken possession of a corrupted hard drive.