Nobusawa – Nobusawa EP (Token)

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Separately, both DJ Nobu and Katsunori Sawa have established serious reputations as techno producers in their native Japan, the former hailing from Chiba on the country’s west side, and the latter coming from Kyoto. While they’ve both been individually active and prolific for at least the last decade, this debut self-titled 12” EP release under their Nobusawa collaborative alias represents the first time that the duo have joined forces in the studio, collecting two new collaborative tracks as well as a solo track from each of the two respective producers.

While the overriding emphasis here is on direct, stripped back and functional dance music, it’s the duo’s rich and vivid approach to sound design that really makes an impression here. On the A-side, Nobusawa’s ‘Raspberry’ kicks things straight into throbbing 4/4 kickdrums and pulsing bass sequences before eerie spectre-like synths begin to howl through the mix, the shuffling hi-hats gathering pace as chaotic and spiky arpeggios suddenly begin to tumble into the foreground, evoking the sensation of some malfunctioning machine on the brink of collapse as the pneumatic techno rhythms power away relentlessly.

Indeed, there’s an implacable man-machine feel to a lot of this EP, with Katsunori Sawa’s ‘Call Scope’ placing seething industrial-edged synth distortion at its core while massed tribal rhythms thunder beneath relentlessly squealing alarm-like tone modulation, before DJ Nobu’s ‘Peppercorns’ offers up the closest thing to a meditative moment here as whirring layers of synths merge into a blurred wall of sound against spidery-sounding techno snares and ominously buzzing feedback.

Finally, Nobusawa’s collaborative track ‘Decorative 17’ closes this EP off with its most stomping and abrasive moment as punishing kickdrums hammer against distorted overdriven synths, relentlessly bleeping alarm-tone electronics and fat, flanged out analogue bass, the entire track seeming to become more crushed and deformed as it progresses. There’s very little in the way of real light here, but fans of relentlessly punishing industrial techno are in for a treat.

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