Keita Sano - Holding New Cards

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  • When we talk about "perfect records," we often mean those where everything falls into place: the production is sophisticated, the proportions are right, the artistic statement is nicely enunciated. Keita Sano's Holding New Cards is none of these things—it's overstuffed, stylistically varied to the point of incongruity and often unsettlingly strange. The most exciting thing about Sano has been always his diversity, but it's mostly been presented in fragments on EPs: some gritty techno here, some colorful house there. On Holding New Cards, it's all in one place. The result is an album that really gets to the bottom of what makes this young, wildly prolific artist from Japan so thrilling. Sano makes decisions you wouldn't expect from many other producers. Take the vexingly titled "Everybody Does It," where synthesized horns and grinding feedback get pumped to the back of the mix by a massive sidechained bassline. It's not house, techno, bass or any other genre I can think of; I'm not even sure it works in any objective sense. But Sano's enthusiasm is contagious. Elsewhere, he's more restrained, but no less giddy. "Fake Blood" is a swirl of sentimental melody beset by rushes of woozy dissonance. "Holding New Cards" is a sludgy, slow-motion techno epic as gnarly as three or four L.I.E.S. EPs combined. "Onion Slice" is a UK hardcore tune given a candy-colored glaze. "African Blue" has enough drum tracks to max out even late-model CPUs. The first time you cue up the album, you aren't quite sure what you'll get from one track to the next—and even repeated listening won't counter the whiplash. All that said, Sano has snuck a couple of straightforward tunes on the backside of Holding New Cards. "Escape To Bronx" and "Insomnia" are both unyieldingly noisy, but they're also finely wrought acid cuts that would work well on a 12-inch. That spark is still there—on "Insomnia" especially, the drums practically tear gashes in the mix—but you can sense Sano ever-so-slightly refining his approach. Perhaps these tracks foreshadow a more sober phase in Sano's music, where he settles down and hones his approach instead of trying every style that might suit him. In the meantime, though, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more intoxicating new producer.
  • Tracklist
      01. Fake Blood 02. Onion Slice 03. Ends How It Ends 04. Everybody Does It 05. Search 06. Holding New Cards 07. Happiness 08. He Can Only Holder Her 09. Escape To Bronx 10. Insomnia 11. African Blue