Tokyo Mask: Hinterlands
Low Impedance

Kostas Karamitas' first full-length Tokyo Mask album Hinterlands alternates between tribal ambient settings haunted by shuddering guitars and distorted voice samples and slow, drum-and-bass explorations of a dark dub-hop character. After “Critical Mass” inaugurates the album with an industrial drone of steely shudders and factory noises, a muted horn rises from the ashes in “Queen of Crossroads.” But it's the track's rumbling bass and thwacking snare groove that strongly indicates that Hinterlands has more in common with Bill Laswell's dark ambient style than it does any IDM-related genre.

Even so, the heavy rhythm emphasis on tribal cuts like “Oil and Stone,” “Like You Perverts,” and “The Miraculous Erector” argue that Karamitas' music is even more kin to the Sly and Robbie albums Drum and Bass Strip to the Bone and, to a lesser degree, Rhythm Killers. Keening train whistles in “Oil and Stone” even appear to nod in the direction of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express during the tune's journey through the African Congo. In general, Tokyo Mask's music presents a harrowing and nightmarish dub mutation that simulates a disorientated Opium-induced state. Devotees of Laswell's Hear No Evil and the Material outing Hallucination Engine should find much to like about Hinterlands too.

April 2007