Words on contemporary releases. Seeking to offer an honest description of works which manage to exist in their own space and time.
Steven Porter – Journey To The Star [10 Label]
The latest and also last Steven Porter release on the Japanese 10 Label is a soundtrack to a modern American Dream. The previously unreleased tracks merge elements of genres like soul music, 80s beat, footwork, and industrial to an highly enticing amalgam, fitting the spirit of the nation the former duo chose to dissect. Still, with this release Yuji Kondo and Katsunori Sawa carry on the melancholic, asymmetric style of their previous output.
Yuji Kondo and Katsunori Sawa have been prolific artists during their career, both masters of precise sound arrangements. Where Katsunori Sawa prefers broken beats and murky rave influences, such as in Immortal Bind [TEN003], Yuji Kondo has a splendid taste for cinematic noise and distorted vocal samples (Faces Past [TEN005]). Under their Steven Porter guise both flavours blend together in a great way, creating quite interesting works for the listener. As curators of 10 Label, they have expressed sonic ‘cultural experiments’ as leading theme. This is an interesting narrative, leading Kondo and Sawa to invite stellar artists like Ancient Methods to attempt interpretations on the label’s storyline.
The record starts off with America, a great intro, displaying immediately this eclectic arrangement of styles, forming a menacing backdrop to what is coming. People might notice that this is not as heavy as what they might be used to, yet the industrial beat and drone pauses still take the major lead in this track. Better Mind continues this rather chilling vibe and picks up the pace with shifting, heavy thuds and claps, alternating formed by percussive elements and chopped vocals. Combined they make an apparent nod to the Native American history of the USA, presenting a ritualistic piece which could easily be looped longer and used during a live set. The EP’s eponymous track Journey To The Star amps up the broken percussive element of Better Mind and blends it in with rhythmic noise and subtle short soul vocals. About halfway something spectacular comes in, the mid 80’s sample of the rap song La Di Da Di by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, later on distorted and alternated with crunchy chainsaw sounds.
Whether Steven Porter consciously chose to end their output with this intense and off-route release or not, the record proves to be a great display of the American Dream turned slight roller coaster nightmare (as we can relate to, in the age of Trump). Highly recommended listening and we are curious to hear what their careers might bring further.