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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Shurayuki-hime - Seifuku II [Self Release - 2016]

Here’s a huge 6CDR set from Shurayuki-hime, presented in a DVD case, and adorned with a picture of an angelic looking japanese girl - I’ll confess that I have no idea of the significance of the image, but I believe the name of the project comes from the film Lady Snowblood… Each CDR is titled with a pattern of dots pertaining to its disc number, and this seems perfectly in tune with the visual aspect of the release, as well as the track titles - the first three discs are parts of Her Rose Blushed Cheeks, whilst the latter three make up The Scent Of Flowers: all these things carry a simplicity and minimalism that reminds me of aspects of traditional japanese culture.

I’m not going to even attempt to summarise the entire workings of the set. Each disc is seconds shy of 80 minutes long - except Her Rose Blushed Cheeks: Part 3, which is 75 minutes long - and that’s a lot of material! Instead, I’m going to quickly stroll through them, and give a sense of what’s to be found. The bulk of the material is largely static, with small developments, so I think short outlines of each track are appropriate. (The release is rather old now, and quite possibly long sold out, but it can be found on the Shurayuki-hime bandcamp.)

The opening disc, Her Rose Blushed Cheeks: Part 1, is dark and deep, with crumbling, hard textures splintering over a thick, crawling bass drone. It’s driven along at a relentless pace, though not a especially fast one. The wall becomes more agitated as it progresses, until it breaks open into near saturation. These stressed textures continue until the end, with the track becoming again darker, leaning back towards the bass end. Her Rose Blushed Cheeks: Part 2 straight away has a different feel - more dry, more ‘digital’. The overall tone is perhaps more oppressive, dominated by an unstable bass, and jittery mid-frequencies. Actually, there’s nearly a tune to be heard in the glitchy, ‘digital’ crackle. After a low drone emerges, the piece becomes dirtier, with the bass ploughing straight ahead, pulling stumbling mid-frequencies and treble in its wake. The pace here is equally relentless, but again not speeding. Near the end, a more delicate trail of thin crackle begins to dance over the top, adding greater depth. Disc three, Her Rose Blushed Cheeks: Part 3, is dominated by wonderful, dirty crumbling textures. Wet, quick, and tumbling, like falling gravel. They really are exquisite. Over time, sharper flecks rise up and stick out, and the textures become harder, and harder, but those layers of crumbly wall remain beautiful.

The Scent Of Flowers: Part 1 begins the second half of discs, and immediately scouts out new territory. The wall here is dominated by scratchy treble, which twists over pebble-like crumble, and an odd, lurking bass drone. As the track develops, the mid-frequency pebbles grow louder, and begin to dominate, though the strained treble crackles remain. In the final passages, more delicate flecks of treble emerge, and the piece becomes more kinetic and agitated. The Scent Of Flowers: Part 2 again presents different directions, paring things back to a bass drone, and sparse scuffing over the top. A ghostly skittering rises out of the background, and builds throughout the track. It continues, ever more agitated and deeper, until the whole wall nearly breaks open. The final disc, The Scent Of Flowers: Part 3, bursts through the speakers as if the whole set had been holding back. It jumps straight in with a fast, rampaging wall, founded on speeding low-mids and bass, with treble textures scrabbling over the top. The pace never drops for a second, and the aggressive tone doesn’t either. Though, near the end of this savagery, a hollowed, rattling, high-mid frequency crackle appears - perhaps the sweetest texture on the entire set - and this beautiful, almost wooden, sound carries the track to its close.

This is a really superlative set. It does wander through a range of textures and tones, but there’s also a definite sense of focus: it wanders, but never too far. There are developments and shifts, but they are overwhelmingly subtle and gradual - and so while the discs are indeed largely static, they are not clinically so. Some of the textures are stunning - particularly the crumbling elements of Her Rose Blushed Cheeks: Part 3, and The Scent Of Flowers: Part 1 - and, of course, the final disc ends on such a high note. It’s all evidence of a creative ear and careful construction, and I recommend you visit the Shurayuki-hime bandcamp very soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Martin P
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