HiM - Remix series #1: Japan [FatCat Records - 2002]HiM is seen as a groundbreaking project for the also groundbreaking drummer Doug Scharin. His experiments with jazz & dub are widely acclaimed, and as the title of this release claims, Japan is no exception.
Already founded in 1995, Doug Scharin's HiM is now a full-time job for the talented experimental drummer. Already described as "Miles Davis as drummer", he's mostly known for his work with June of 44. Doug has worked with many different musicians and bands, including Rex, Codeine, June of 44, Royal Trux, Directions In Music, Tortoise and Isotope 217. Thus it may not come as a surprise to you that there are many musical genres explored; afrobeat, dub, jazz, rock, post-rock, electronics, funk... Still, his love for rhythm always kept things together, and his albums on FatCat and Perishable Records are therefore little jewels that can't be missed. Enough reason to get some work remixed and Japan is the first in a 3-volume series of 12 inches, later to be followed by an U.S.A. and an U.K. issue.
Nobukazu Takemura starts with a long epic track consisting of multiple parts, taking the original A Verdict Of Silence (from the Sworn Eyes album) to a whole new level. Incorporating the glitches and bleeps that are standard in electronic remixes nowayays, but also drums falling into reverberation and the trumpet sounds from the original song. The almost 16 minute long ensemble between jazz and electronics flows by very naturally with a strong backbone built of bass and drums. Out Here is a track from the New Features album, released in 2001. It's now Susumu Yokota's turn, and he has clearly made something for the dance floor; rhythmic, ass-moving beats with a constantly repeated jazz sound collage in the background. This track is perhaps not as impressive as the previous remix on an artistic basis, but certainly more memorable because it's more accessible. Ultra Living takes on Sea Level (from New Features again) and ends this 12". The free jazz of saxophones starting this track play with the ear, but slowly changes into atmospheric static with noisy and electronic sounds sprinkled over now and then.
This 12" of remixes in certainly not unimaginative, the artists dare to play with the originals and don't care to keep the remarkable or danceable drumming intact, as we are used to from Japanese artists. Remix #1 is therefore a highly impressive piece of work that at first will demand something from the untrained listener, but will show its beauty of artistic freedom after a few close listens. I begin to doubt that the U.S. and U.K. editions can top this, but the artwork based on a traditional Japanese tattoo design can only be completed by all 3 records together, so that should be a good reason to look out for those already.Justin Faase