Miyauchi Yuri – Tone After Tone (2012)

The fourth album from Japanese folktronica musician Miyauchi Yuri, Tone After Tone (or to use its proper Japanese title トーン・アフター・トーン )

I’ll confess, I haven’t heard Yuri’s previous three albums. Heck, I only just found out about them a couple of weeks ago. From what it looks like, not too many people have heard of them, so I think I can be excused. Nevertheless, I’m glad fate caused us to stumble together, because this is a bit of a hidden gem.

Tone After Tone for me feels very much in the same vein as work by Manual, which is lucky because Manual is one of my all time favourite artists. One of the biggest differences between them, however, is that unlike a good deal of electroacoustic out there (that I’ve heard), Yuri keeps away from the glitch for the most part and tightens his focus more on the guitar and the beats. That’s not to say that glitch isn’t present, just present to a lesser extent.

“toaf_” introduces us to this sound right away, bringing the main guitar melody to the fore and keeping it there while weaving cute little guitar fragments around the electronic beats and careful synth. It’s bright and optimistic, and while the glitch is absent there’s plenty of fragmentation and weirdness to take its place.

“digo_” shows the other side of this release, the fundamentally electronic side. While the guitar throughout the album is almost always at the forefront, there are tonnes of electronic beats to guide the tracks along. The weirdly processed, airy guitar zips along at a great pace, while the beats give it that much needed oomph to get your feet tapping.

“fida_”, “kano_” and “ceof_”  all come from a roughly similar direction, cut from the same electronic cloth. Some mild glitch intrusions, guitar wobbles and downtempo beats. While “digo_” and “yef_” demonstrate the furthest lengths of the sound, these three fall nicely and unobtrusively in the middle.

“yef_” dials everything back. This album’s core is the guitar and it’s nice to hear it in its unaccompanied, untampered original state. It’s not a complicated piece, merely a short melody repeated a number of times, but it just feels nicely intimate with its fingers-sliding-down-frets and striking clarity, finishing on a cheeky little parting note.

“reioa_” is my out and out favourite here though; it’s got that cute guitar honesty of “toaf_”, some nice bass and really delicate rolling glitch sequences, all rolled into one fantastic little package. Everything just stacks over the guitar, creating this texture-laden crescendo of electronica beats before sparkling out.

“wiove_” ends the album with a bang, with Yuri throwing everything he’s got at us. Big electronic beats, some very light background vocals, some great percussion and a slow diminuendo of some drawn out drone beat as the album closes.

This is a nicely short release, with no particular theme or message or absolute concept. In that respect it’s a little disappointing, insofar that coming away from this album I do feel pretty unchanged and emotionally neutral, but that’s just me. It’s just a very easygoing, uncomplicated listen that doesn’t tie you down, doesn’t demand anything from you.

Yeah, bit of a lacklustre review, sorry about that.