Musical happenstance and synchronicity has had a mysterious and ever-present hand in my musical wanderings over the years. This chaotic element has probably become less relevant in the Internet age of the ever-present now, where an artists entire catalogue can be downloaded on a whim, dissected and spat-out before breakfast. Yet, the linkages, meaning and memories of music are peculiar to every individual. Keiichi Sugimoto is onto his third album for Taylor Deupree’s 12k label (and fifth altogether) under the Fourcolor moniker. I’ve been luxuriating in the lush textures and ambience with teeth of As Pleat for some time, slipping back into the twilight melodies and detailed microscopic percussion of “Frosted Mint”, where Fourcolor’s crystalline guitar textures twinkle in the dying rays of the sun. As Pleat is a serene and well-sequenced album that flows with a delicate poise and enough variety to engage most nearly all folks who enjoy a meditative moment with some Post-Rock inspired Ambient textures.
Retreating to the introduction about musical happenstance, I was fortunate enough to catch Keiichi play on Friday night, both as Fourcolor and in the duo incarnation of Minamo, as well as compatriot and vocal contributor to As Pleat, Moskitoo. Seated in that stereo sweet spot between the speakers, I was impressed with Fourcolor’s technicolour sound, derived from a guitar, a whole guitar-case full of effects pedals and a Mac laptop. At times, the disconnection between Keiichi’s strumming of the guitar and the staggered, panning sounds that emerged from the speakers, was profound. As Pleat‘s concluding track, “Quiet Grey”, has the same hyper-processed nature, akin to Oval or Svalastog, yet managing to maintain a strong sense of the acoustic temperament of the guitar. Stitching together the silent spaces and guitar sonics into a wave of inward-rolling harmonics and hammering on, Fourcolor’s familiarity with his equipment was readily apparent in a live setting, and also comes across strongly on record.
As Pleat‘s lengthiest track, “Carmine Falls” overlayed guitar tones and soporific atmosphere fulfil the 12k remit, without descending into cliche. Over the duration of the piece, Keiichi’s tones become increasingly frenetic, with a curious “accelerating” feel courtesy of a slide up the fretboard. Like an imagined pairing between The Durutti Column’s Vini Riley and the Raster Noton label, the subtle mix of electronics and guitar based textures works in both a soothing and rigorously intellectual capacity. “Ecru Driver reminds me of Vladislav Delay’s early work for the Chain Reaction label, as lopsided dub-referencing rhythms and casual guitars are subsumed under layers of cotton wool and fog. Like a dream sequence for Japanophiles, “Iris (Familiar)” features drifty vocals from Moskitoo, evoking a fantasy pairing betwixt Tenniscoats and Masayoshi Fujita (otherwise known as El Fog). “As Pleat” should reinvigorate tired ears (or those of the relative neophyte) hankering for an intelligent ambience with feeling and elegance.