Fabrizio Somma aka K-Conjog returns after 2018’s stunning “Magic Spooky Ears” album, which still gets regular plays in Drifting HQ. This time ’round he has the short and sweet “Dum Bow” digital EP, once more on the highly reliable Schole Records imprint. Like the previous album, Somma continues to blur lines and genres with this short, but sweet release.
“Dum Bow” is a Magic Spooky Ears spin-off. The EP includes 3 brand new tracks and a new version of Magic Spooky Ears’ electronic pop gem “Same Old Grace”. K-Conjog keeps exploring and composing very unique tracks combining IDM, electronic & synthetic textures.“
“Gently” is a perfect first track to open with especially if you have jumped straight into it from “Magic Spooky Ears”. It has the woozy dubby beats and rhythms, alongside vocals and bright synths that made that particular album so uplifting. Somma likes to mix the styles of sounds and images to occasionally having something harrowing alongside something beautiful. Vocals are important to him, but they lean more as a sound element rather than as a traditional song structure. In this particular track they are more like a chorus come chant. While not completely out there, Somma does have an experimentalist’s touch in his pieces that manage to avoid the usual tropes and instead are broken up, twisted and constructed in a way that is purely him. On this particular track he doesn’t follow a narrative flow, instead he stops and restarts with almost each time sending the listener down a different path. Crunchy beats, retro synths, gritty textures and layers upon layers of sound feature nicely.
“Slashes III” flashes of retro synth, dubstep inspired beats, combined voices, large chunks of orchestral like electronics and scattershot percussion are just some of what constructs “Slashes III”. Very retro inspired with it’s synth sounds, Somma mixes up fast elements such as looped voices and fast percussive synth work with a rumbling bassline countering it. The feel you get from the track is frantic. It would be too easy to cast into the retro “Stranger Things” inspired field of music as Somma has a foot definitely in the present, but that reference will give you a good idea of just what you can expect.
“Odayaka” like a “Slashes III pt.2” as the tracks feel very much aligned with some subtler variations. Like a piece of music to exercise to, the bpm is up (as would your heart beat). Opening with 8-bit sound, looped vocals and rave like synth move into the motorik main part of the track that mixes up synth tracks with a variety of beats. In some way I feel with all the twist and turns and music that casts across such wide visual cues that I see the music as the soundtrack to an old Mario Kart style game from a defunct console.
“Same Old Grace (PlayPressOnTape Version)” naturally I went back to compare the original prior to listening to this version. The original piece was easily a highlight from the original album one that has grown on me more over time as the release gets played more and more often. Because of this my preference is for the original. While the original was more grandiose the PressPlayOnTape version is a more synth-pop orientated piece with lush synth and vocoder effected vocals. It comes across vocally a bit subdued, but musically upbeat. Compared to the other three tracks the construction of the track is more straight forward with the main rhythm of the original brought front and centre and given more light shone upon it. The track itself is nice, but I have such fond feelings for the original that straight away I went back to listening to it.
“Dum Bow” is a great little ep (fourteen minutes long) that can act as a gate way for those new to his music and at €2 it’s hard to pass by. The fusion of retro sounds, mixing up elements, tempo and percussion ensure that you never quite know where you will be taken. Once you’ve checked it out go and check out “Magic Spooky Ears” as it is very much a slow burning enjoyable album. “Dum Bow” is available digitally.
“This compilation album is released to benefit for disaster relief of Western Japan floods and heavy rain disaster and Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake occurred in July, 2018. This SCHOLE’s fourth compilation album is compiled with new music and unreleased tracks. On the summer of 2018, large-scale disasters frequently occurred in Japan, which left a great damage to various places. We would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to all the victims of these natural disasters. SCHOLE launched this project from the spirit of continuous and long-term support for the recovery from these disasters. By listening to the music, all the profit (excluding the cost of production) will be sent as donation to Japan Red Cross Society and disaster recovery organizations.”
For this Digital charity compilation Schole have rounded up their most recent artists with some of those from their illustrious back catalog, all together for a good cause. Names like K-Conjog, Flica, Haythem Mahbouli, Tim Linghaus and Akira Kosemura all feature, some of these as collaborations with other artists, while the label’s newest artist Kieli (aka Ekin Pöllänen), whose EP “Tick Tick Talk” is released on July 26 opens the collection.
What it demonstrates is rather than just what a considered and considerate label Schole is, is the quality that you find when you spend time with such a compilation. Normally I have only been focusing on a single artist and their albums as opposed to a collection. But when you have an opportunity such as this you can really examine the label as a whole in a way that reveals a lot. Schole and beauty are tied in together. There is something about how they present themselves from the music they release through to the packaging. Whether it’s the minimalist beats meets modern classical of Flica or the dance floor touches of K-Conjog or even naked and unadorned Tim Linghaus, there is something that’s ties everything together.
Opening somewhat solemnly before Pöllänen’s angelic vocals sweep you off your feet, the album traverses the glitchy acoustic Ambience meets Modern Classical of Akisai into the dancefloor with K-Conjog , before finding the listener in organic territory with Daisuke Miyatani + Yutaka Hirasaka. Jochen Tiberius Koch (with Gunnar Skrocki) blends Ambience with Modern Classical styles and a hint of Synth style orchestral droning, Dakota Suite, Quentin Sirjacq and Velladon take you in almost nautical direction with delicate piano and accompanied by mournful strings while Sirjacq alone conjures up piano and vibes magic with “Augustine”. Tim Linghaus has created a career on intimate musical moments and this continues with the sparse, but captivating “Wish I Were Here with You”. The home stretch sees a wind soaked Haythem Mahbouli drift into nostalgia with ” 希望 (hope)” before Itoko Toma ‘s “Fly” has an achingly fragile beauty that sort of reminds me vocally of Lavalu. Flica’s glitchy beats meets piano and bass has a laid back feel and exudes a calmness that from time to time we need to embrace. Label boss Akira Kosemura teams up with Dom Mino’ for the surprising all electronic squelchy, woozy and shuffling “A Song From The Past” before Paniyolo’s acoustic “Fish” closes the collection in a way that seems fitting as the track conjures up vivid emotional imagery with a reflective feel.
Charity compilations, especially in the Ambient underground have a great reputation for their quality. Think “Kanshin”, “For Nihon”, “Salaam For Yemen” and “…And Darkness Came” to name a few. You can now add “After The Rain” to that illustrious group. It is also worthwhile checking out if the Schole label has been on your radar, as it offers a nice overview of where the label is at in 2019.
“After The Rain” is available to download now.