K2 - Burst After Burst (Early Recordings 1990-1996) [Urashima - 2020]When one thinks of Japanese noise names like Merzbow, Incapacitants, and Masonna come to mind. But another project that’s been getting lots of praise & much-deserved reissues of their back catalog of late is K2- with its fiery & dense-yet often creative and moody junk focused soundcraft. This recent six-CD set focuses in on the early work from the project from between the years 1990- 96, and I must say even at the dawning of K2-the sound here is self-assured, skilful, with a good idea of noise composition/ flow- and largely it’s also fairly firm & focused in it’s raging-yet- controlled junk noise attack.
This new boxset is released by respected Italian noise Urashima- it’s presented in a flip side metal clip wooden box- this is dusk grey featuring stencilled text on the front taking in the projects name & releases title, on the back an oriental character- there’s also stencilled lettering inside taking in the logo & name of the original label that put out these releases. Each of the six discs come in their own pastel-colored card slip sleeve, and these recreate original artwork on the front & release detail on the back- also featured is blue pastel fold-out poster recreating original cover artwork, and a number paper certificate- this release is Ltd to 300 copies.
The K2 project became active around 1983 with its sole member been one Kimihide Kusafuka- he released two tape release at this point, then seemingly went quiet on the release front until the early 1990’s( through was still making work, just not releasing it)- and from then till now he’s put out coming on for two hundred releases. All the material on this boxset original appeared in cassette form on his own Kinky Musik Institute label.
So move onto the noise it’s self- and the first CD is entitled Materia Informis - this was originally put out in 1990, though the material was recorded in the year 1985. We have two around twenty minute works here- first, there’s the very aptly titled “Heavy Metal” after thirty or seconds or so of greyed out noise haze we get a series of rapidly ringing selection of metal bangs, with underneath these a churning & fuzzed-out gloom drone hover. As the track progresses the quantity of the hits seems to increase, and as this occurs we get a rather pleasing feel of ring & gliding harmonics occurring- that are very nice to trance off into. The second track here is “Material Unknown”, and we find a more brooding & looser meeting between churning-yet-duller hits ‘n’ grates, and sways of sinister drone matter.
Disc number two takes in 1993’s Autopsy Soundtrakks- this was recorded & originally released in the same year. Featured are three tracks that run between thirteen and thirty minutes, and following on from the sinister undertones of the first disc final track- here we find a more death ambient meets more subtle junk ‘n’ electro-noise moodiness. The first track “Part 1”- is all slowly bonding 'n' grim blend of bleakly simmer drones, slowly twisting & baying junk noise swirls, and slightly spacey electro noise sways- it rather brought to mind Hollow Earth a late 1990’s project that sat somewhere between deep & dark ambient & noise-making. Next is “Part 2” here we find a more pronounced use of grating noise tone & grey rattling churning, with an undercurrent of grinding & spiraling death drone. And lastly, we have “Part 3-4” this is the longest track here at just over the thirty-minute mark, and goes from baying & grimly moodiness- to been active noise tone billow, drone, and grate.
Moving onto disc three & we have 1993’s Souls Are Kontrolled By Molekules. And once again the two tracks here were recorded at the same time of release. First up we have the title track which is a fairly active & often sourly seared blend of waving off-angle higher pitches, grey machine drone, and fleeting ‘n’ swirling harmonics. Lastly, on this disc, we find “Molekules include Souls-Musikadaver” here we get an even more active mixture of electro bays, cut-up noise tone bounce & bangs-to-simmers- I can’t say I enjoyed this track as much as most of the material here, as it became a little too random & bleeping for it’s own good.
Onto disc four & we have 1994’s De Novo- and once again this was recorded the same year. It’s a two-part affair, with each piece having a runtime of around twenty minutes. So we have “Part 1” which brings detailed & layered selection of junk metal textures taking in mid-ranged clugs, smashes, vigorous scrubs, and higher-pitched bays, with later on a few radio samples drifting by- this as you’d imagine is rather eventfully & shifting in its journey. Next is “Part 2” and here be slightly more nuanced & at points bombastic collusion between mangled grates, battering saws, and raging forks- there are also a few moments of less manic/ less layered points here.
Second to last we, of course, have disc five and this takes in Rusty Tongue- this was released in 1995, but was recorded the previous year. Here we have once again two-part tracks- first, we have the decidedly manic pile-up & sudden sustained bay of “Part 1”- this mixes shrill drags ‘n’ whistle, mid-range bashers, and at times semi harmonic junk horn-like billows. “Part 2” is fairly similar in its attack/ feel, though there are a few different noise tones/ elements at play. All told a rewarding manic & shifting disc.
Lastly, on disc six we find 1996 release Destruktion For Model Citizens- which was originally recorded & release that year. Once more it’s a two-track affair- and following on from the last disc the sound here is very manic & rapid. “Part 1” is racing & darting mix of seared squeals, cascading mid-ranged static, grating cascades, and bouncing grey static. “Part 2” and once more is an all-out attack- bringing together dizzying noise tone harmonics, churning & speeding static grinds, and rapid pitch bays. All told this disc is a nice & full-on harsh noise attack.
There’s no doubt that K2 deserved & needs to be mentioned in the same breath as the more known names in the japanoise genre- and let us hope this box will help redress this balance. Another very nicely presented & classy noise release from Urashima- but if you fancy a copy I'd act quick, because as I mentioned early its only ltd to 300 copies.