Katsunori Sawa: Holy Ground EP
Weevil Neighbourhood

Presented in a beautiful grey marble vinyl format (limited to 350 copies), Holy Ground is Katsunori Sawa's second solo EP on Weevil Neighbourhood, following as it does 2013's The Two Legs. Born (in 1977) and raised in Kyoto, the Japanese producer issued his debut album Information Warfare under the EOC (Enormous O'Clock) alias in 2008 on the UK label Ai Records after which he and Yuji Kondo (aka Ducerey Ada Nexino) established their own imprint, 10 Label, in 2010 as a vinyl outlet.

Sawa's interest in various genres, among them techno, ambient, electro, and noise, is well-served by the four tracks on the release. “I'm Lost” opens the 45-RPM set with a series of agitated keyboard stabs rapidly augmented by a hyperactive, machine-like stream of Raster-Noton-like rhythms, the cut an exercise in raw dub-techno whose assaultive edge resists bleeding over into abrasive noise. Track titles such as “I'm Lost” and “Warning Sign” lend the release a dark and oppressive character that's to some degree borne out by the tone of the music. Compared to the opener, “Warning Sign” plunges deeper into a grime-laden zone filled with detonations and pounding, the combination of which evokes the image of an urban setting being systematically destroyed by the merciless machinery of modern warfare.

Recovering from the destruction with which the first side ends, the flip opens with a furious industrial-techno banger, “Surface,” which, while still smothered in dirt and noise, lunges forth with serious purpose as if determined to overpower opposing forces and push its way through the ruined landscape by sheer force of will. Beats drop out altogether on the closing “Evocation,” wherein anguished voices wail amidst dense swirls of smoke and ash and the groan of hydraulic machinery. If Holy Ground proves anything, it's that Sawa's as much an ambient soundscape designer as he is someone interested in crafting clubby fare. Certainly there are as many if not more textural details on display as there are beats.

July 2014