Kaito: Hundred Million Light Years

A magnificent full-length from Kaito, the guise Tokyo-based Hiroshi Watanabe adopted in 2001 and under which he's issued the Kompakt disc Special Life and its beatless counterpart Special Love. The vibe here is not merely sunny but euphoric, with nine deep tracks transporting the listener heavenward. Eschewing angst almost entirely, Hundred Million Light Years keeps the focus on panoramic trance-house, with vibrant clusters of synths and strings coalescing into soaring streams of shoegaze (Watanabe also flexes his Cologne techno chops on the luminous “Your Brilliant Flowers”).

Kaito's deeply vaporous style is kin to Wolfgang Voigt's Gas, but Watanabe's generally joyous ambiance exudes little of the brooding mystery associated with Gas. Having said that, the melancholy spirit of the sublime “Nobody Could Be Alone” and “Holding a Baby” only renders their sumptuous sound all the more affecting, while the melody softly flowing through the trance epic “Life Goes On” is soul-stirring. Minus the poignant theme, the track would still be a fabulous pulsating groove; with it present, the song turns transcendant. We've yet to mention the lovely details Watanabe adds throughout, like the sweet bass drum hiccup that drops every sixteenth bar in “Nobody Could Be Alone,” and the magnificent breakdown that occurs in the song's middle before it springs back to life for a magnificent coda. One source reports that the Japanese word 'Kaito' stands for “He who is able to explain the universe” and, while I'm not certain of the translation's accuracy, there's no doubting the rapturous sound of Hundred Million Light Years.

April 2006