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Asa-Chang & Junray Tsu Gi Ne Pu Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Second mini album from sampladelic ethnographers Asa-Chang and Junray.

Marcus Scott 2002

Opening with sampledbleeps from the control panel on the Starship Enterprise, which sound like mechanical birdsong once a flute melody is played over the top, Asa-Chang and Junray invite you into their strangely alien (yet familiar) artificial world...a tabla is bounced along as it's digitally tweaked into strange bouncing raindrops, only to be joined by a booming timpani. This is all within the first three minutes.

This is wide screen colourful exotica of the highest order taking in gamelan vocals Indian tabla, chimes, horns and even Gary Numan style synths.

It makes sense that this album was scored in the same way that a classical Japanese piece would be, but with the addition of a calculator. This is because Asa-Chang is obsessed with the division of time within rhythms. and the spaces between them.

With this information onboard, it's clear that this precision has paid off. The music sounds as dramatically edited as a good film is(complete with jump cuts, just to let you know you're listening to a CD).

"Tsuginepu to ittemita" is a good example of this, a tone poem for a female voice and tabla, the tabla accenting every syllable, accompanied by a gently chiming Japanese melody. However the narrative is disrupted by digital editing, repeating words, leaving large spaces, cutting passages short and speeding up the rhythm.

Not short of ambition, Asa-Chang also takes on an song in English that sounds almost folk-like, were it not for the twanging guitar, tabla and odd opera sample. Ironically the most superficiallyrecognisable form becomes the albums oddest, least accessiblemoment.

The best song must be "Kaikyo" where a rickety sounding brass band play a beautiful melody with what sounds like Roland 808 percussion and synth chorus as accompaniment, in front of a clearly sampled backdrop of breaking waves. It's somewhat reminiscent of the last scene of English horror classic The Wicker Man, but with a mood that's ceremonial and kitsch at the same time.

This is truly one of those rare records that honestly doesn't sound like anything else. It's also strangely catchy, with a strong melodic element; modern but still steeped in tradition. Whatever else it is, it's an accomplished and colourful record.

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