- Portland duo Visible Cloaks are best known for two mixes, titled Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo, which explored "fourth-world undercurrents in Japanese ambient and pop music." The '80s micro-scene they celebrated—a world of strange, modest Japanese synth music from the likes of Haruomi Hosono and Mariah—has been enjoying a revival lately. (Among the records included was Mariah's Utakata No Hibi, since reissued to acclaim.) For many, those mixes were an access point into this obscure style. For Visible Cloaks, it's helped give their productions a distinctive voice. Their previous release, a self-titled album, paid homage to the era, and their RVNG Intl. debut does the same.
"Valve" is built around a spoken word track from Miyako Koda, half of the duo Dip In The Pool, who featured on one of Visible Cloaks' mixes (and were recently reissued by Music From Memory). The duo follows Koda's cadence with a fluffy cumulus of pentatonic synths, while mallet percussion and distant, thoughtful pads mark out a broader structure. At some point, Koda's voice exits and the synths carry on, and the effect, as with much music in this style, is abstract but extremely soothing.
This isn't the first time the Koda track in question as been sampled. CFCF built some elevator techno around it last year, and got a remix from Tatsuji Kim from Dip In The Pool, who are still active. Visible Cloaks' homage also turns into a conversation: a "Revisited" version of "Valve" features a new vocal from Koda, around whose pristine coo the track forms into a stately pop song. Both versions are short but wonderful.
01. Visible Cloaks - Valve feat. Miyako Koda
02. Visible Cloaks & Dip In The Pool - Valve (Revisited)