For all the excitement of much forward thinking contemporary music, on labels like PAN, Type and the Editions Mego conglomerate for instance, it exists within clearly defined, established, expected and agreed upon parameters. Rare is music that hits you by surprise from some unknown angle, whose resources and materials are indeterminate, and whose producer throws wider curveballs with every release. Koji Asano is one such producer, prolific and difficult to pin down or predict, despite making music that is rarely wholly satisfactory. It’s this constant risk taking however, this willingness to fail, and fail better, again and again, that is so welcome in today’s bland and risk averse world.
Mile Reimbursement picks up somewhat from his preceding album Travel Coupons, which offered two long compositions based on sampled strings, winds and brass, chewed and spat out into a new indigestible mass. At times it seems similar sources underlie Mile Reimbursement, but the processing is heavier, so much so that the result – an hour of fizzing, snaking, skipping digital noise – is actually impossible to read. For the first twenty minutes a ritualistic pulse is bashed out on a jangly snare drum, this slack rattling lazily, and haphazardly, punctuating a dense field of groaning tones from across the spectrum. There are shifts in pitch, timbre, speed and dynamics, elements dropping out as the piece progresses, but the end is hardly empty and calm. Strange and perplexing, but like all Asano’s work well worth exploring, if only to hazard a guess as to what his next move might be.