Welcome to the electronic forest…
I first found out about Koshiro Hino’s music through last year’s KAKUHAN duo with Yuki Nakagawa, a jaw-dropping set of compelling experimentalism based on drum machines, electronics and cello (one of aJN’s picks of 2022). He’s also known for goat, the avant-garde not-rock band (a selection from their first two albums, rereleased by EM Records, coincidentally arrived while writing this). GEIST II is his latest; an acousmatic production from an eleven-piece band, comprising a multitude of horns and woodwinds, cello (Yuki Nakagawa again), drums and, of course, electronics. Utterly different – although the two albums make surprising sense taken together – GEIST II is a lusher affair, immersive and even overwhelming, in which you can either play spot-the-instrument (seriously, nothing sounds like a saxophone to me!) or just slip beneath the surface and float wherever it takes you. It took me way out of orbit…
A botanical future-garden, a dank cyber-woodland trail, an alien jungle… Insects chirrup and vibrate in the too-green, a slow atmospheric rumble builds, there’s a metallic shimmer in the air (or whatever it is you’re breathing).
As side one proceeds, more and more I’m put in mind of old pulp science fiction stories, when Venus was still imagined to be a verdant-but-alien jungle, a greenhouse planet – foetid and steaming and filled with other biochemistries.
Bell-like blossoms tinkle, great insectile wings thrum unseen in lesser gravity, pushing through the undergrowth is a strangely crystalline experience – faintly metallic foliage clatters, muted by tropical fumes. Deeper. And not alone. By the end of the first side, we’re surrounded by unfamiliar howls and roars.
On side two, we’re translated/mitted to another location (still Venus? maybe even Neptune?) Scraping and marching sounds vibrate through an alternate atmosphere. From the forest to the caves, we go ‘subterranean’. Rocky caverns, flowing with almost-water – drops falling too-slowly – and still the sense of unseen and unrecognisable chthonic life, shadowing closely, perceived but not seen. At the final destination, let’s imagine an underground water garden with luminescent fungi – why not? An abode of tranquillity and marvel.
Category and genre labels are usually misleading and overly simplistic (good fun, though) and that goes doubly so for GEIST II and the work of Koshiro Hino. GEIST II acts as a reality filter, introduced aurally, shrouding the world in a haze of other in which instruments don’t sound like themselves and experimentation truly means ‘previously untried’. An unnerving wonderland based on field recordings from another planet.
Ai Yanagi – horn
Emi Anno – baritone sax
Hironobu Abe – alto sax
Joe Talia – drums, electronics
Koshiro Hino – electronics, field recordings
Kyoko Kadoya – alto sax
Mayumi Yonezawa – baritone sax
Nahoko Kamei – soprano sax
Tadahiro Ishihara – alto sax
Tatsuhisa Yamamoto – drums, electronics
Yuki Nakagawa – cello