aus: Lang

aus: Lang Remixed

Though it's new to these ears, Yasuhiko Fukuzono's aus release Lang was actually released two years ago but its exquisite brand of melodic electronica is as fresh as bread straight from the oven. Being newly introduced to the album isn't such a bad thing when it coincides with release of the related remix version whose A-list of contributors includes Ulrich Schnauss, Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Manual, Kettel, ISAN, and The Remote Viewer among others.

Fukuzono's one of those rare producers whose work exemplifies technical command and compositional artistry in equal measure with the latter pointedly deployed in service to the latter. Every piece is a marvel of construction in rhythmic and melodic respects and, on the all-instrumental Lang, the Tokyo-based producer effortlessly segues between uptempo locomotion and delicate lullabies that sparkle iridescently. Sometimes beats and melodies work in tandem while at other times they work at cross-purposes, such as in “Double Talk” and “Moraine” which contrast the heft of thrusting grooves with willowy melodies that arc in slow motion. Fukuzono proves he knows his way around a funk construction too, judging by the fulminating beatsmithing parading through “Beyond the Curve,” while the beat programming skills showcased in the light-speed “Halo” and “Headphone Girl” verge on amazing.

Of course one can approach the remix set in two ways: listening to it on its own terms or playing a comparison game with its precursor—my preference being the former. The remixers don't merely remix but re-imagine the originals and the range of styles and moods is pleasingly broad. Eustis appears under the Sons of Magdalene moniker to give “Clocks” a thorough ambient makeover filled with hypnotic lattices of piano, guitar, and synths, and ISAN's dreamy “Aslope” offers a prototypical example of the group's refined style. With its clouds of glistening guitars and keyboards, “Halo” exudes the panoramic sweep that's so much associated with Ulrich Schnauss's work. Kettlel retains aus's beat emphasis by grounding the angelic vocalizations and synth atmospheres in “Double Talk” with driving breakbeats. Manual's “New Look” overhaul hews to Jonas Munk's epic guitarscaping style while State River Widening transports “Headphone Girl” to the center of a spring forest where flutes and acoustic guitars warm it with sunshine. The heavy beat crunch Dosh (“Beyond the Curve”) and bass-heavy wobble Bracken (“Moraine”) bring to the project provide a bold contrast to some of the more restrained interpretations. A more comprehensive overview of tasteful electronica would be hard to imagine.

May 2008