COPPE’ + NIKAKOI: Rays (Mango & Sweet Rice)

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Posted on Apr 11th 2012 01:19 am

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Coppe' + Nikakoi: Rays

COPPE’ + NIKAKOI
Rays
Mango & Sweet Rice 2012
13 Tracks. 61mins01secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD

Never one to rest on her laurels, the self-professed ‘legendary godmother of Japanese electronica’ Coppe’ continues on her own unique journey, this time with Georgian electronic Nikakoi with whom she teams up for the entirety of this latest album. Coppe’ has made a habit of confronting her sonic universe with that of countless musicians and sound artists from all over the world, from the famous (Plaid, DJ Vadim, Atom™) to the totally unknown, often bringing them together on a single album. Rarely has she taken a collaboration over a whole album; in fact, the last time it happened was back in 2002 with Mercury, which she recorded with The Program, and Papa, My Buddha with long term friend Ryan Breen.

Nikakoi is one of the handful of projects from Georgian film director and electronic musician Nika Machaidze. Author of three albums, two for WMF Records released in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and a third one on Laboratory Instinct in 2009 which he followed, on that same imprint, with a double CD on which he collected tracks from both WMF publications as well as some rare and previously unreleased material. His work, although essentially instrumental and heavily textured, has, on rare occasions, incorporated vocals sequences. His involvement with Coppe’ on this project is however taking him onto very different grounds.

Coming less than a year after the release of a vast remix project which saw Coppe’ put one of her tracks, Yogurt, into the hands of the Bit-Phalanx collective, Rays is once again a thoroughly ambitious and quirky collection of sweet and sour electronic pop songs. The album opens with a reworking of the opening track from her previous record, but whilst the original version of Forbidden was all velvety and smooth, this revised offering shows some more angular features and relies on an overall more hectic rhythmic grid. And, if Artificial Insemination demonstrated some unusual acoustic tendencies, Rays is, by contrast, resolutely electronic, from the tongue-in-cheek ambient of Amygdalas and the much more fluid Dream or We Collide… We Unite… to the playful techno of Meat or the fragmented and arid minimal electro of Cell.

Coppe’ has a particular ability to assimilate her partners’ own sounds and adapt her approach accordingly, but she is equally as good at letting them into her own realm, and this is exactly what happens here. The exchange is unashamedly bilateral, to the point where it is difficult to know exactly where their respective contributions start or end. At times, it feels as if Machaidze’s light touch is perhaps a tad more obvious (Dream, Cell, Key), while songs like Purple Cheese 4 U! or Meat seem filled with characteristics favoured by the Japanese songstress, but there is a real sonic consistency through this whole record which clearly demonstrate the great symbiosis between the two.

Although ranging from the intricate sonic constructions of Forbidden or Yogurt to the odd experimentations of Meat or the lush sequences of We Collide… We Unite…, Rays closes with four wonderfully delicate atmospheric pieces, each new one taking off some of the layers of its predecessor to close the album on a series of rather sumptuous notes. Both Key and Alp still build up into fully fledged miniature pop songs, but their respective soundscapes are resolutely dreamier than anything before them, and as the album progresses into its title track, rhythmic components are reduced to a minimum as Coppe’s voice is layered into exquisite swathes and blended into the fluid soundscape which develops behind it. Hagoromo is even more stripped down, its softly textured backdrop contrasting with Coppe’s heavily distorted and processed vocals to bring this album to its conclusion.

Rays comes with a separate USB stick shaped like a Lego brick containing a wealth of additional material including remixes, some previously unreleased material, a one-hour mix of tracks taken from the entire Mango & Sweet Rice catalogue from Sutekh, videos and more, demonstrating that Coppe’ is a true force of nature when it comes to music production. In the seventeen years since her debut album was published, Coppe’ has never ceased to seek new challenges and develop her ideas by constantly connecting with new collaborators, and this latest offering is a further proof that there is yet much more to come from this most charming, generous and singular of artists.

A new download-only single, Forbidden, backed with a previously unreleased song, My Heartbeatz Become Earthquake is now available exclusively through Bleep.

4.8/5

Mango & Sweet Rice
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD

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