- Most minimal falls into one of two categories these days. There's the nicer kind, which is all about lush textures, rolling grooves and inoffensive melodies—think producers like Petre Inspirescu and Barac, and the so-called Romanian sound. Their focus is on creating atmosphere just as much as functionality, which allows the listener's attention to drift away every now and then. There's also the kind of minimal that forces you to listen. Drums hit harder, vocals are more twisted and the mood is usually darker. This second style is edgier and more adventurous than the first, and perhaps the strongest link to minimal's rawer early days. Ricardo Villalobos is this style's most famous proponent, who, along with likeminded producers such as Zip (usually as Dimbiman) and Margaret Dygas, has proven that it's possible to bring effective randomness to the dance floor.
Fumiya Tanaka's work has fallen into both categories. Since turning to softer sounds after ten years of making purist techno, he's put out melody-rich slow-burners ("Für Elodie"), latin-flavoured summer jams ("I Can Tell You Of Course I Know It Was"), subaquatic brain-melters ("What's That Called Water? (Dub)") and everything in between. For the most part, his output hasn't been particularly flashy, and very little is clearly functional. Tanaka's tunes aren't the kind of tracks you throw into your set without proper consideration—most have a moody tinge that isn't an obvious peak-time choice, and few have a particularly pronounced kick drum. It takes a skilled selector to get the most out of them, but when someone does, the results can be powerful. (You'll know what I mean if you've been lucky enough to hear "Fumiyandric 1" played at the tail-end of a long night.)
Same goes for You Find The Key, Tanaka's first album on Perlon. It's a record for DJs: supposedly a few years in the making, most tracks, which range from seven to 12 minutes, are given a full side of wax. You won't find any of the ambient interludes that electronic LPs often favour these days—each cut is club-ready with mixable intros and outros. And like almost all of Tanaka's work so far, there's an overarching sense of melancholy that's offset by crafty drums and catchy vocals. Take "Swallowed Memory." A hammering kick is paired with an eerie synth and vocal snippets—it sounds like it could've been a great beatless track, but Tanaka's percussion turns it into trippy afterhours fare. "Love Keep Mapping The Head" and "The Only Your Researching" are two of a handful of rollers, combining fat basslines with crisp snares and swing. "The Mysterious Pocket Is Right," another highlight, is You Find The Key's most conventional moment, and the closest Tanaka gets to deep house.
Nods to Villalobos are present across You Find The Key, particularly through Tanaka's use of vocals. These snippets are largely incomprehensible, but add colour to otherwise gloomy atmospheres. Would this album exist if Villalobos hadn't come before it? Absolutely not. But Tanaka has put his own twist on a small but increasingly neglected corner of minimal, where boggling brains is just as important as moving feet.
01. Munique Uncertain
02. Got To See You
03. Find The Key 2012
04. Swallowed Memory
05. The Mysterious Pocket Is Right
06. The Only Your Researching
08. Love Keep Mapping The Head