If ACR’s compilation The Opposite of Aloof Vol. 1 last January was statement of intent to deliver “tasteful, ecclectic, and irregular” music from around the world, then the label’s ninth release by Japanese artist TMRPOE [The Most Remote Place On Earth] proves a knack for unearthing consistently remarkable talent.
The label’s output has spanned some well-known names in the drone sphere, such as Sweden’s Knivtid, but its main purview is emerging artists from Asia, the Americas, and Europe. For music geeks, it’s sharing in these new extraordinary musical discoveries that brings real delight.
TMRPOE’s first album Keep Sleeping, which Brown Noise Unit exclusively previews below, is a great example in that it arrives in your ears as a mature, fully formed concept, with shape, weight, and authority that’s suggestive of the effort invested in its creation.
The broad theme of Keep Sleeping is of dreams and imaginary realities. It’s through a series of brief, vivid portraits that the album takes the listener on a waking journey through the subconscious.
Where electronic ambient compositions tend to be long-form, each of these short pieces is like the snapshots we remember upon waking—poignant, but stripped of context. Collecting these kinds of dreamlike impressions here only deepens a sense of mystery.
“It’s through a series of brief, vivid portraits that the album takes the listener on a waking journey through the subconscious.”
Composed entirely in the digital realm (excluding “real life” sounds captured with a cassette recorder) using software and MIDI controller, a water motif and the lush resonances of Javanese gamelan quickly emerge, an influence TMRPOE composer Kee Yawne said he drew upon.
Drifting through falling curtains of rain and quiet pools of sound is seductive, yet it’s Kee’s ability to create harmonically complimentary tonal spaces for these “field” sounds to occupy that draws you in deeper.
Like a lot of instrumental music, Keep Sleeping is fascinated by the interplay of patterns, whether it’s a repeating piano figure refracting in a subtle delay, evoking spaciousness like an empty sunlit room; or elsewhere, when overlapping bell-like melodies flip in and out of focus to give the music a dreamlike quality.
Based in Tokyo, Kee says the album took several years to complete and served as an outlet for his imagination, a private oasis from which to escape the pressures of the urban jungle. “I am very particular about atmosphere,” he says tells BNU. “Sometimes I use software, sometimes l use live sound. [The short songs] are dreams, fast-changing scenes. I want to express daily life as a dream, create a new reality.”
“Its power comes from exploring new niches in familiar, interesting territory, and musically, it’s unafraid of contrast…”
So what is it that makes Keep Sleeping worth your time? To begin with, it’s the amount of ground it covers in a small space of time. Eight portraits will take you from south-Asian rainforest, with its warm fragrant shadows, to open sunlit skies, to dim interiors of medieval churches or a seldom-used room, and onwards to high slopes where pulsing tones create cloud-shadows that race across green, springy turf. It captures and holds your attention without effort.
Its power comes from exploring new niches in familiar, interesting territory, and musically, it’s unafraid of contrast—after all, dreams wouldn’t be dreams without a sense that anything might happen. For you, on Keep Sleeping, it might.