Whilst Twitter can often just seem like loads of people screaming into a void, it’s also a pretty good way of finding new music! Intrigued by the particular enthusiasm of a tweet about this we thought we’d give it a listen. Posuposu Otani is a folk musician from Kanagawa, Japan. Recently prolific, he has released two albums already this year. The ten tracks of ‘Posuposu Otani 2021’ take in very little by way of instrumentation, little more than an electric guitar and vocals. It’s basically ten variations on a theme.
His previous album featured ten tracks in which he only played Kohkin, so it seems Posuposu Otani likes to set himself strict boundaries. The result here is something quite mesmerising.
The opening guitar instrumental “Mind Raga” is utterly hypnotic. The guitar dances and revolves around itself with twinkling syncopation. Repeated motifs build and drift throughout. “Freaked Out” sees him bring his unusual vocal talents to the fore. Part overtone singing, part folk singing, the almost didgeridoo-like warble he manages is fascinating. This is all set to a repetitive guitar noodle that gives is a meditative feel.
The incredible vocal gymnastics continue into the delightful “Paper doll for a sunny day”. The simple shaker beat, and the brilliant multiple vocals recall Animal Collective’s ‘Sung Tongs’, but this is something all the more incredible. Towards the end, his voice (if that’s really what it is) actually sounds like an oscillating synth! Posuposu Otani is nothing if not playful. “Epiphany” is a cute variation, with almost-highlife sounding guitars, subtle percussion and sweet vocal harmonies.
Structurally, we kind of have the idea of where each song is headed by this point, but there are enough adjustments in rhythm to keep things interesting.
He plays with rhythm variation on “Ordinary days”, which pulses like Konono No1, switching on and off the beat. Those vocals continue to fascinate too. The otherworldly textures and tones are phenomenal.
“The tadpole” sits those twinkling guitars atop a high drone. The repetition and subtle changes recall Kurt Vile at his most somnolent.
The folky “About desire” is another cute ditty that uses vocalisation as percussion over a sweet guitar chord pattern. There is a clear Highlife influence running throughout the album, and this continues on “The pursuit of beauty”. At point, the vocal arrangements recall Ladysmith Black Mambazo, for instance on “The taxi”. This makes me want to eat baked beans.
Posuposu Otani saves the most beautiful song til last. “Nowadays quest mk.3” is melodically gorgeous and set to a very simple strummed chord pattern. Of course, he ensures he ends on one last blast of throat theatrics.
You may enjoy this if you like: Konono No1, Animal Collective, R Aggs, Les Tetes Brûlées, Ladysmith Black Mambazo