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Hiroto Kudo “Omoid”

by Russell Thomas

Special To The Japan Times

The musical subgenre glitch reflects our modern relationship to digital sounds, something Hiroto Kudo has picked up on for his new EP, “Omoid.”

Glitch is often associated with early video-game music, implying a paradoxical nostalgia for a bygone age — the embryonic beginnings of our interconnected world. While “Omoid” is jostling with thickets of glitch, however, no particular track embodies it entirely. So it is perhaps fitting that the title of the six-track EP is based on an incomplete rendering of the Japanese word “omoide,” which means “memory.”

The Sendai-based Kudo creates emotive tracks, and appropriately names them for their prevailing sounds and the recollections that inspired them. “Kiss Her” indulges an instantaneous dark and urgent atmosphere, exploding with regret and longing in a distorted, industrial sound. “Blue” is an unnerving follow-up. The brash percussion and frenzied jazz saxophone in “Flyby” illustrates a racing mind, full of kinetic energy, the looping of thoughts echoed in its final stuck-record sounds. Wintry frames of mind pervade “Omoid,” from the beginning of the watercolor washes of sound in “Phantomatic” through to “Frigidity,” a glacial track with glistening glockenspiels.

But it’s on the final track, “Senjyo,” where emotion comes through most clearly; based possibly on the 1983 video game of the same name, it’s harmonious and gentle. Liquid percussion and stuttering vocal samples lend a frantically cute aesthetic as the track reaches a nostalgic crescendo, memories of the imagination and adventure of childhood appearing, then fading to leave the crackling present, recorded footsteps crunching away into the distance. Conjuring this yearning for a more carefree time, a less responsible age, Kudo puts glitch to use as a relic of the past, rather than a modern gimmick, and finds emotion within the artificial.

“Omoid” is available to download for free at Hiroto Kudo’s Bandcamp page: hirotokudo.bandcamp.com.