Lerin / Hystad – Amaterasu

7 Production
9 Composition
8 Mood
8 Instrumentation

You know about that moment when you wake up, you get out of bed and you step into the shower thinking: “What did I dream of?” At first you remember nothing, then, things start coming back, “ah, there was a car crash, but I was eating burritos… and then I kissed my favourite girlfriend, my favourite because I had three, and then my best friend came along, but he was like my dad and my best mate Brian from high school in one person.” And so, you piece together your broken dreams. “Amaterasu” does the same thing to me, but then in exactly the opposite order. So first I listen and think, “well this is great”, but when I start to think of why it’s so great, the more I think about it the less I know why, and I end up thinking “well, this is just a great album.”

RELEASE DATE: 01 March 2015 LABEL: Extemporaneous Recordings 

I just can’t seem to put the qualities of this album in words. All my thoughts become terribly pervasive when thinking over the work of Simon Torssell Lerin and Bettina Hystad, yet somehow, the fact that “Amaterasu” is hard to grasp makes it all the more an interesting record. The Swedish duo claim to be working “in the borderland between art and experimental music” and have been basing their collaboration around East Asia and its contemporary culture. Their second album “Amaterasu” takes its name from the Japanese sun goddess and sees Lerin Hystad take most of their inspiration from the Land of the Rising Sun. The album is larded with field-recordings from the arcade halls and subway stations of Tokyo and Osaka, which are used as a base for Lerin’s guitar melodies and Hystad’s electronic beats, constituting the albums main characteristic.

“Amaterasu” is a very peculiar album. The songs, which are named for districts and wards in Tokyo, are all very loud, very happy, and contain frequently repeated melodies with lots of sounds of screaming people incorporated. At the root however, “Amaterasu” is a noise record, as the texture of the field-recordings plays a very important role in the album’s aesthetic, and even though most songs are created around only one or two melodies, the level of detail in the samples is so high that the songs never get boring. The listener can literally drown herself in the songs, which are very overwhelming and varied in their stylistic origins. Influences on “Amaterasu” range from indie rock (Shibuya) through EDM (Nippori) to free jazz (Roppongi).

The lead instruments, which are mainly guitars, but also synths and saxophones are sometimes really low in the mix, which makes them hard to perceive at first, but it’s really fun to listen closely and try to pick out all the little runs and lines that are hidden within the music. “Amaterasu” is a very hard record to appreciate, and this might be a serious turn off for people who are looking for an evening of easy-listening. But like I said, “Amaterasu” is a great album. With their melodious approach, Lerin Hystad have made noise accessible and even though the record is a hard one to bite through, it is still very much worth the effort. I still can’t say why “Amaterasu” is a great record, but it will definitely enter my annals as one of the most sophisticated, forward-thinking and poignant albums of this year.

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