The Retail Sectors: The Starlight Silent Night
Symbolic Interaction

The Starlight Silent Night may be The Retail Sectors' (aka Kentaro Togawa) most satisfying release to date. In fact, it's so fully-realized a distillation of the group's sound, it's practically definitive—in short, a perfect starting point for listeners new to the Symbolic Interaction head's one-man band project. As he's done with previous Retail Sectors releases, Togawa creates music of remarkably rich variety without straying from his trademark guitar-bass-drums set-up. A key stylistic signature of the group's sound is the coupling of lyrical, crystalline guitar lattices (“The First Step to Fly Again,” “Finally, People Unconsciously Hope That Their Savior Die”) with a raw, incinerating attack (check out the blistering climaxes of “Forlorn Dreamland” and “Song About a Girl Who Killed Herself Yesterday”—the latter in particular so pummeling it could induce heart failure). A typical track evolves naturally through dynamically contrasting episodes with the compositions revealing thoroughly-considered structural form. Togawa also has a soft spot for elegant 3/4 time, with a number of tracks almost echoing the feel of a Scottish highlands jig (e.g., “The Never Ending Night”). The caterwauling decibel level of “March of Incurable Workaholic” can't hide the melodic core of its waltz-timed flow. “The First Step to Fly Again” exudes a jubilant and jaunty spirit with guitars chiming in sing-song manner, blissfully unaffected by the spreading mass of fuzz growing below, while crisp drumbeats give “Forlorn Dreamland” and “Cold Hands and Dirty Sky” their epic kick. The Starlight Silent Night is nominally post-rock but labels hardly matter. Simply call it dramatic guitar-based music whose unexpected detours constantly surprise.

March 2008