CD, Electr-Ohm, 2008
Considering his exceptional back catalog, mostly released on his own label Electr-ohm out of Japan, I fondly place Sunao Inami on my short list of under-rated modern electronic music pioneers. Inami is quite skilled, and dare I say remarkably inventive when it comes to his distinctive imprint of sound treatment, no matter what style he might be presenting with any given release. Yet despite an impressive body of work including a multitude of compilation appearances, Sunao Inami has somehow managed to fly below the radar all these years, making his presence an almost serendipitous one to those uninitiated. Perhaps this is intentional on his part or perhaps he is merely ahead of his time.
I like to think that I am familiar with (and enjoy) most of Sunao Inami’s work, but I have to admit that “How-Bow 2” initially threw me for a bit of a loop. This is the second of two full-length releases this year from the Japanese composer, the other being a more accessible collection of songs titled “Laid-Back Computing”, however “How-Bow 2” might be Inami’s most challenging work yet. With his unique applications of DSP sound manipulation and heavy analog synthesis, marked carefully by his love for early ’80s Industrial experimentation, Inami seeps originality with every studio album and “How-Bow 2” is certainly no exception to this. The first “How-Bow”, which was once lost to a limited CDr release for the C.U.E. label in 2003 (but has since been resurrected on iTunes), falls into the now well-paved “glitchy-click-step-IDM” territory and hardly follows suit with part 2 (yet it is said that by playing both editions simultaneously achieves another interesting aural excursion in itself). With the second addition to this series, Sunao this time offers nine lengthy, densely layered tracks of ominous drones, unrelenting dark ambient chaos, and haphazard noise collages. Like a steady downpour of toxic rain on some dark and distant alien world, every track here visualizes a multitude of sounds that might emit with the impact of each acid rain drop on surfaces of various metallic refuse, all in a perpetual but still unsystematic patchwork of clamor. Tracks like “Ztoch”, with its randomly placed shelves of tinny breaths interjected into a thickly layered fog of atmospheres, and “Yun1”, a complex piece of windy, clanking drones and expertly hidden rhythms, define the experimental nature of this multi-facetted beast. Shelter is not much of an option here, with only slight intermission offerings such as “Oct5″and “End_w.1+” to lend momentary calmness to the insistent storm. Yet these instances of stillness can only subject the listener to an almost deafening array of insect-like buzzing and the strange cries of unidentified creatures off in the distance, before eventually returning to the captivating and intentional upheaval of “How-Bow 2”.
Despite the difficult style of this release, one should admire its purity, with its unapologetic nature presented naturally, and not forced upon the listener. “How-Bow 2” has a distinctive organic complexity and uncompromising persona to it, which is curiously refreshing to these ears. No comparisons can really be drawn here, which ultimately lets in an air of originality that cannot be ignored. Sunao Inami’s new collection of work is a powerful and unyielding soundtrack to your favorite science fiction movie, which can only be viewed through the mind’s eye.
— Paul Nielsen