The Retail Sectors: Subject Unknown
Symbolic Interaction

While Symbolic Interaction's recent split disc provided a decent introduction to The Retail Sectors and Yaporigami, it offered a mere snapshot impression of the artists. The Retail Sectors' hour-long full-length Subject Unknown now rights that wrong by presenting a fuller portrait of Kyoto-based Kentaro Togawa's musical style. The album's not solely a solo effort, though, as Togawa receives remix help from guests Yaporigami (Yu Miyashita), Headphone Science (Dustin Craig), Si Begg, and Maps And Diagrams (Tim Martin): Si Begg's jaunty mix of “The First Step to End the Life” opens the album jubilantly, Maps And Diagrams imbues Togawa's guitar-based sound with subtle electronic enhancements on the too-brief waltz “The Decadence and the meditative soundscape “The Decadence,” and Headphone Science transforms “The Longing Song” into a mutant ‘post-rock' variation of a Scottish jig. Though such pieces are appealing, tracks like “The Distress” (reprised along with “The Decadence” from the split release) and “The Lonely Shy Boys Fly To Sky Again and Again” are more representative of The Retail Sectors' style; here Togawa builds up multi-layered lattices of chiming guitars over basic drum patterns and bass with the mood predominantly lyrical and melodic. Intermittent swarms of guitar buzz surface to give the music extra oomph (brace yourself for the detonation Yaporigami drops into the middle of “The Dread” and the beautiful crunch that builds in “The Story of a Girl Who Is Socially Ostracized”) but for the most part Subject Unknown is more contemplative and wistful than the post-rock norm. The album's only weakness is an occasional moment of lackluster drumming but that's hardly a crippling aspect.

April 2007