YUTO OHASHI - "Juvenile - insubstantial, re​-​present"


YUTO OHASHI - "Juvenile - insubstantial, re-present"

(Cudighi Records)

Singular piano notes and softly digitized vocals float above a gently rolling lake of hypnotic ambient drones on die Leere (世界がもし透明だったら,) the opening track of this strangely comforting assemblage from Tokyo-based sound artist, Yuto Ohashi. The unusual sensations continue in the second track, Holma - backed by a synth that ping-pongs between two notes, layered with softly bubbling vocals and flowing pan effects that curl in the air.

This is Juvenile - insubstantial, re-present, a presentation of audio poetry that blends sound textures with airy, meditative synth lines, and digitally-altered spoken word pieces to form intriguing aural works that challenge the listeners perception of time and space in a pleasant, extraterrestrial way. Each track is a microcosm of wandering energies and displaced voices, melded with “real-world” sounds that twist and turn around the curving avenues of the music.

While certainly a trippy head journey - Yuto Ohashi is able to create a contiguous experience that doesn’t rely on the usual audio tropes to accomplish the goal. Each selection is crafted with balance, and carefully folded precision that gently pushes the listener to form a unified vision of the artistic whole. Excellent for quiet evenings writing thoughtful notes, organizing a small shelf of house plants, or zoning out of daily life with eyes closed and mind open, Juvenile - insubstantial, re-present rushes in to expertly fill a vacuum in the tapestry of all recorded sound.

Gray Lee

LOOTUS - "Sounds From Vermillion Sands"


Lootus - "Sounds From Vermillion Sands"

(Cudighi Records) 

This strange tale begins in the titular Vermillion Sands, an altogether lonely place, devoid of any obvious signs of life. The Vermillion Sands are hard to navigate. After the initial novelty of arriving in such a strange place, visitors invariably begin to search for something to do. There are no shops to peruse or sights to see. Human nature demands we look for a mystery to solve.

To spur the wobegone tourist to action, a soundtrack is provided of questioning synth keys that are answered by some indigenous life form invisible to the naked eye. Inquisitive bass echoes across the shifting white sands as we look for footprints or pathways that will lead us somewhere. Curious rusted machines abandoned along the way are unable to whir to life and provide clues, though forlorn electronic utterances occasionally drift upon the wind.

Up ahead there is a stirring, is it alive? It is an aging tortoise that gives one last look before beginning to spin like a top, lifting itself into the sky and out of sight, leaving a swept circle in the sand.

"Why have I come here?," you ask myself.  

"We do not know," a wordless voice pantomimes.  

Vacations used to be affordable, and one tended to end up in a desirable, pleasant place, not the endless white dunes of Vermillion Sands. A curious mechanism buzzes by overhead, from whence is it bidden? A man in a white suit stands on the pier in the distance, whispering into a walkie-talkie. We run as fast as we can, but he has vanished like a ghost, leaving behind the remote for the drone, which has now crashed into the sea. 

The tail of a whale flips above a white capped wave briefly, before splashing down into the sand. Waves of white sand crash over the pier, toppling it into the sand, it breaks into a pile of clumps. Clumps of Vermillion Sand. 

We sing a silent prayer for the man who disappeared. 

You pick up the walkie-talkie at your feet and listen to it, but it is only a Conch Shell, which houses an echoing voice that repeatedly warns us about the hounds.  

What hounds?  

Those hounds. 

They burst from the ground like wild onions, shaking Vermillion sands from their matted fur. We run from them.  We run for miles. The dogs chase us to the top of the tallest dune, so tall that it is really a mountain. As we reach the summit we slip on the treacherous sand. We tumble down the other side with the almighty crash of Vermillion sand chasing us down the dune. 

We reach the end of the journey. This was not like the brochure said it would be. We dance a strange dance, with many halting movements and unusual steps. We have heard the sounds from the Vermillion Sands. I'll probably come back again someday.

Gray Lee



Haunted Gauntlet - "OM3G4 G3N3SIS"

(Cudighi Records)

Lo-fi instrumental hip-hop meets warbling oddball audio in OM3G4 G3N3SIS, a new release on Cudighi Records by Omaha, Nebraska heartbreaker, beat-maker, and soul-taker Haunted Gauntlet. 

First of all, let’s put our anger aside that Haunted Gauntlet came up with an artist name that’s just head and shoulders above the rest of us - he’s our cousin now, and he’s making this bizarro avant-garde hip hop that I’ve been jamming in the car for weeks.

Armed with a small army of cousins, who guest rap on the album, Gauntlet takes us through a beat-infused landscape of weirdly woven samples and oddly modulated sounds. It’s a concoction that defies direct categorization and makes it difficult for amateurs like me to explain properly. That’s why you need to be listening to this mess. I certainly appreciate the punctuative use of the Sonic the Hedgehog ring acquisition sound throughout this release. Much better than at the gas station when people redeem lottery tickets, that ring sound actually belongs in this weirdo collage of crunching beats, varied rap styles and grab bag sound effects.

It’s hard to choose a standout track. I prefer listening to the whole thing on repeat. Dusk ft. Sleep Sinatra is a great slow groove with sick rhymes and great sampling. Most Wanted ft. Keii brings us a laid back jam with a great chorus and some nicely disintegrated synth lines as a backdrop. There’s even a nice bit in Essence Pooling where the track closes with a fun sampling from a certain well-known water level. Thumbs up, Haunted.

Every track has a different, distinctive flavor - while adhering to the killer Haunted Gauntlet aesthetic that the listener will be able to pick up on right away. There is a satisfying amount of ‘wobble’ in here, an antiquated post-everything sound, like digging music up out of the rubble of a failed world and trying to figure out what it means. The rhyming voices here are powerful and energetic, lending to the living, breathing feel of each composition.

OM3G4 G3N3SIS is available in digital and cassette format, from Cudighi Records.

Gray Lee


Yeah. Just look at that.

TOON - "Cudighi"


TOON - "Cudighi"

(Cudighi Records) 

Blending drones, field recording, and other mysterious methods, sound artist Benjamin Van Howe performing under the name, Toon, creates a dense, atmospheric ear tapestry that permeates the senses. 

Cudighi is as complicated and hard to explain as the awesomely bizarre cover art (designed by David Frazier) that represents it.  Going by this cover art alone, Cudighi a story about how three people in a mint condition 1988 Chevrolet S-10 embark on a journey to deliver a load of sound equipment. Along the way, they all face challenges and triumphs, learning lessons about life and love. Before the story can conclude in a heartwarming way, with time left over for commercials, an evil, lamprey sort of thing, (which the locals have nicknamed The Cudighi,) attacks them and attempts to complete violence upon them. After some intense amount of struggle, and the heroic self-sacrifice of one of the three protagonists, success is had! The giant lamprey creature is defeated and the sound equipment is delivered safely to the starving schoolchildren, who can now make unusual, hard-to-classify tapes and release them in limited quantities for the world to hear! The school is saved! Everyone laughs wholesomely! All except for that one dead character whom they rename the music room in the school after.

Fantastic cover art aside, I really enjoyed this release. There is a fun interplay between the glitchy noises and fuzzy tape loops, against the more rhythmic backdrop of percussion and synths. The result is a clean, easy-to-listen-to sound that packs a lot of detail for those repeat listens. Next time you take your Chevy across the country to deliver music gear to starving kids, make sure you take your Cudighi tape along! It's a great listen.

Gray Lee