Kyoka: is (Is Superpowered)

If at first glance Kyoka seems like an unusual addition to the Raster-Noton club, a single listen to “Lined Up” on her first full-length album is (Is Superpowered) argues that she and the label—long associated with artists such as Olaf Bender (Byetone), Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), and Frank Bretscheider (Komet)—are a natural fit. On that song, staccato, glitch-saturated rhythms of the kind typical of Alva Noto give the material an immediate Raster-Noton stamp. But Kyoka also puts her own mark on the material by not only adding her own cut-up voice plus the cartwheeling vocal blur of a ragga voice to the song but by dynamically presenting the elements within a dynamic club-friendly context.

Her voice, which humanizes her cool, machine-generated productions, is used in a variety of ways, sometimes as fully formed melodies and sometimes in cut-up form as snippets. In tracks such as “Toy Planet” and “Moonboots,” Kyoka also creates material that satisfies on intellectual grounds for being artful and experimental yet also appeals at a physical level for being earthy and raw (check out the high-energy throwdown “Piezo Version Vision” for the album's most aggressive example). The aptly titled banger “Rollin' & Tumblin'” likewise brings forth the clubbier side of the Raster-Noton equation without losing sight of its cerebral character, while, even more surprisingly, “New Energy Shuffle” derives some of its kick from a B-Boy shuffle. Best of all is the body-mover “Re-Pulsion,” which scatters snippets of her fragmented voice across a bass-powered funk groove. Such tracks give the impression of Raster-Noton in party mode, letting its hair down and loosening up, and the move isn't unwelcome.

Bolstering the album's Raster-Noton pedigree is the fact that Bretscheider and Robert Lippok (of To Rococo Rot fame) were both involved in a production capacity on the project. It's not Kyoka's first appearance on the label, by the way, as the long-player was preceded by her first EP iSH in 2012. In sum, the forty-nine-minute is (Is Superpowered) exemplifies enough of a Raster-Noton identity to qualify as a legitimate member of its catalogue, while at the same time offering a departure from it in providing a listening experience that's more earthy, playful, and club-oriented than the label norm.

June 2014