By Kiah Easton, Contributor
[Sun Ark; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Body”, “Tabij2”, “Sauna”
Two years have passed since 食品まつり a.k.a foodman’s three experimentally challenging and intriguing albums: EZ Minzoku, S.A.F.E., and IKEIKE. Aru Otoko No Densetsu, his newest full-length album on Sun Ark Records, once again puzzles musical communities around the world and proves his raw creativity without question. Even after swapping record labels from highly experimental Orange Milk Records to Sun Ark, foodman compromises nothing and continues to deliver his uniquely-whimsical art.
The album starts off with “Kakon”, which loosely translates to “Root Cause.” This track serves an interesting purpose in the context of the album. It consists of a series of various percussion popping in and out with modulated effects such as reverb and delay. For the most part, even from an extremely experimental point of view, it’s not the most pleasing to the ear, but the modulation of reverb almost gives it a sense of physical space for which the album proceeds to take place within. The track could be thought of as a tester for the rest of the experience, cleansing your aural palate.
“Body” serves to be one of the most emotionally confusing songs in foodman’s discography. It pops into existence with a circus-esque melody, quickly falling apart into a broken, dark mesh of sounds that are driven by a classically comical sample of a female singer yelling “Everybody!” The sounds are organic, harsh and disorienting, creating a jarring listening experience and the peak energy of the album. “Body” splits the album in half, the first more percussive and harsh, the second much more ambient. The end provides a stark transition as the song halts mid-phrase and proceeds to flow into the lush ambience of “Mizu Youkan”.
The second half includes “Tabij2”, a track that will make you close your eyes and smile at the sun while simultaneously head bobbing hard enough to hyperextend your splenius capitis. Dry, tight flute sounds rhythmically lead you through the song, as twinkling melodies twist around playfully. The drums flam and sprinkle, giving the song a movement that stays consistent throughout. “Tabij2” has an underlying similarity to Aphex Twin, with its spacey melody and complex, slithering drums.
The combination of “Tabij2” into “Sauna”, taken out of the context of the album, provides for one of the most accessible and melodic foodman listening experiences to date. “Sauna” is gentle, timid and emotionally communicative. Waves of ambience wash in through the first few seconds of the track, eventually pierced by rhythmic piano stabs, their volume automation so meticulous it feels as if they are talking to you. A swell that replicates the sound of the most satisfying deep breath drops into an infectiously bubbly and bouncy melody that’s separated by consistent, tight, airy stabs. The sounds convey a sense of vulnerability as if foodman was distilling a moment’s feeling into two minutes and 30 seconds of art. One of the shortest songs on the album, it fades out as softly as it comes, leaving the listener refreshed, satisfied and ready for the final song on the album.
Aru Otoko No Densetsu once again delivers foodman’s raw, incomparably strange-but-infectious style while bringing something new to the table. Even at its most chaotic, the album feels emotional, perhaps connected to a more vulnerable side of foodman. Each track speaks for itself individually as well as in the greater context of the album, providing for an infinitely re-listenable experience to add to foodman’s powerfully-unique discography.