Very recently, Carpainter from Trekkie Trax (Tokyo’s beloved independent record label) released a new EP called “Orient” with roots stemming from Detroit Techno and UK Garage/Funk. The EP contains two songs; the first titled “Orient” and the second titled “Mottled Pattern”. Collectively they are composed with upbeat, inspiring melodies that are true to their influences, and are very reflective of Carpainter’s ability of an artist.
What I like most about these songs are they can be listened to in any setting–such as a club, a lounge, or even at home in your room. While listening to this EP, I definitely feel a funky vibe that is overall upbeat and easy to dance too, but simultaneously, the intricate composition makes you feel reflective and contemplative of life. It is music that is soothing for the soul, much like classic Detroit Techno:
Orient is a song with an intro that sounds similar to the songs that Carpainter produced on his Returning album, but quickly transforms into an extremely unique and funky melody full of energy. The clashing techno sounds in the middle of the song make it very compelling to listen to, but the drums in the background make the song consistent. It is evident he carefully chose the timing of the techno chords and electronic components of the song, and much like Detroit techno, this song possesses a lot of spirituality combined with technology. What I find amazing is that not many people in Japan are familiar with Detroit techno, but this artist has a firm grasp on how to produce it.
In contrast, Mottled Pattern sounds like it had more of an acid techno and liquid house influence, but much like Orient, the percussion and synthetic beats make it a consistent song that is still very funky. Much like a pattern that is “mottled” or unclear, the song is ambiguous in nature. It sounds like liquid techno at first, then has unexpected spaceship-like SFX in the middle which make it very peculiar. However, this is Carpainter’s distinctive style, and what makes him stand out as an artist. Overall, I like this song just as much as I like Orient because Carpainter put so much of himself into it, yet you can tell he had various techno influences as mentioned above.
Though I have many positive things to say about this EP, my biggest criticism is it doesn’t actually reflect how much as he has grown as an artist. In less than one year, Carpainter has done amazing things like open for Virtual Self in Tokyo, tour in Taiwan with the rest of Trekkie Trax, and also has performed at extremely reputable clubs in Tokyo while studying music and building a following of loyal fans. I have witnessed him perform at techno, anime song, and house events as well as open for foreign performers that come to Japan, and in this single year of 2018 he has improved his abilities more than what this EP reflects.
One reason I love Carpainter as an artist is because he has played more genres than anyone else on his label, and has challenged himself to create music that is much different than what your normally hear from other Japanese artists. However, if you don’t actively follow his club events and only listen to his music online, then you won’t know how much he’s grown as a producer since his last album (Returning, released in 2017).
Fortunately, Trekkie Trax has premiered more of Carpainter’s unreleased exclusive songs on their radio show, so hopefully Orient is part of a larger and more epic release. Additionally, the reason of why he chose sunflowers as his cover art remains up to the listener to perceive (and will hopefully be elaborated on in a future interview)!
If you like artists like Lone, Ken Ishii, Disclosure, and various UK Garage artists, then I definitely recommend that you listen to it!