EOC: Information Warfare
Ai Records

Ai's twenty-fifth full-length, EOC's Information Warfare, is, in fact, two EPs issues as a single vinyl release—a technical detail of possible interest to trainspotters but of minor significance once the needle drops. Kyoto-born Katsunori Sawa wastes no time at all in firing up the digital machinery, with “Jabberer and Gabber” erect and at attention within a second or two. The material is prototypical Ai in the best sense of the word—forward-thinking electro-funk swathed in distortion, drenched in dubby production effects (distorted waves crest across lurching bass ripples and hammering hi-hat patterns during “0000_975”) and anchored by throbbing club beats.

Some tracks hew to a more accessible brand of experimental dance-based music while others find EOC audaciously pushing beyond genre boundaries; to his credit, Sawa's obviously not content to spin variations on tried-and-true formulas but committed to advancing dance music conventions to more challenging levels. The slam and thump of pounding techno beats mercilessly steamroll through “Icebarg” as ambient winds and clouds gently float overhead while “Disparity” serves up a relatively club-oriented electro style with surging rhythms augmented by billowing streams of white noise. Its eyes slightly less focused on the dance floor, “New Translation” pairs multiple layers of textural tears and ripples with near-subliminal vocal streams and metronomic electro beats. Information Warfare's experimental side is captured most strongly in the two pieces that ended the original EPs: “White Chrysanthemum Song,” whose static-smothered vocal choirs, bubbly bass, and ricocheting percussive patterns transport the tune into an alternate galaxy; and “Linkage” which, eschewing beats altogether, travels through an ambient realm aglow with the blinding trails of shooting stars. There's not a moment of bloat in these tracks either; most are in the four- to six-minute range and the album states its case with dispatch in a mere forty-one-minute running time.

December 2008