Kyoka – ‘Is (Is Superpowered)’ LP/CD [Raster-Noton]

We’ve been sitting on this for more than a minute now, and well excited to have it finally dropping this week on a physical format. Kyoka is one of those immensely special artists who’s workings take us to the next level, the type of techno that goes from warehouse to industrial art on the same track, depending on which side you come at it from.

Splitting her time between Berlin and Tokyo,  Kyoka’s been touring for well over a decade, first hitting our ears with original productions after Raster-Noton boss Frank Bretschneider heard her play in Berlin, and subsequently released 23 Ish back in 2012. That EP was like crack, coming at a time where we were looking for new sounds that would tie together club and experimental music with the show, and filling that slot perfectly.

As we dug deeper we fell even more in love with Kyoka. From her attitude of wanting to press on vinyl from a love of analogue formats, to (repeatedly) boasting one of the best live shows in techno, there’s nothing she’s done that we haven’t liked.

This time around, and with a return to Raster-Noton, we knew what to expect. The full-length Is (Is Superpowered) has caught us less off guard, with the edgy, paranoia elements that slightly freaked us out on the first EP evolving in to fresher sounds, and melding even tighter with raw techno-pop stylings. The experience feels more polished but also more versatile and targeted towards the floor as well as the mix.

Across the twelve tracks of the LP we’re also occasionally presented with new vocal elements, a robotic and chopped narration used for hooks and as a supporting structure in the bars. Never been a fan of this generally, but the glitchy manipulation of her voice actually breaks up the 50-odd minutes of clinical electronics quite nicely.

Check the press release below, void of any capitals for a reason known only to the label. Thirty second preview before you get to that, with two favourites from the Raster-Noton Soundcloud page (where you can stream the whole album) right down the bottom.

via Raster-Noton

the significant novelty of kyoka‘s first full length album »is (Is Superpowered)« is that she uses her own voice much more often than usual, in the form of short snippets as well as longer sung melodies. these elements are set and arranged as if they were an autonomous instrument, and sometimes they give the impression of being a babelesque language mix-up, or even a kind of cryptic message for the listener like found in the song »meander«.

the production process of the record was heavily supported by her label mates frank bretscheider and robert lippok, which is, in this way of forming a production team, a unique constellation in the history of raster-noton. whereas lippok focused on preserving the roughness and complexity of kyoka‘s compositions, bretschneider concentrated on refining them regarding their fluidity and focus. both tried to keep the vitality and hyperactivity of the initial tracks without losing their distinctive eccentricity.

although kyoka‘s sound is often kind of chaotic, it is by no means stressful but rather energizing and easy to enjoy. the only exception to this can be found in »piezo version vision«, the noticeably roughest track of the record. her particularly progressive style is best reflected by the song »re-pulsion«, a rolling groove combined with unusual clicks and snares and topped with crazy sounding voice fragments.

the album thus further deepens what was already initiated with her first ep »iSH«, released as part five of raster-noton‘s unun series. it presents a stylistically broader spectrum of kyoka‘s music but at the same time exhibits the fresh and positive, sometimes even childlike attitude she is already known for. this eventually renders »is (Is Superpowered)« a perfect extension of our label catalogue.