Kohei Mihara Cocolotica

Grand Central seems to have branched out more into the electronic world this year, and they seem to be doing it very strategically as they pick out some high quality pieces of work, with Kohei Mihara being the stand-out draft pick. This Japanese producer’s collection of songs from the past five years makes up his debut and most of them, though very simple, are quite impressive and often beautiful. Cocolotica works best when the Tokyo-based Mihara lays down a delicate collage of beats and atmospheric samples such as strings and gentle keys. The results are very simplistic, taking a steady composition and dragging its various elements across the board to make an ambient track with very little change-up; in this case it works as Mihara doesn’t overload his cuts with too much activity. This album works best when there’s an organic touch to the compositions such as the openers "Sense of Distance” and "Imitatrix,” which are more along an electronic jazz tip rather than the heavily dance-infused skippables like "Reverse Place” and "Mosquito.” They’re not bad ventures for Mihara to take, but compared to the eerie beauty of his El-Producto inspired "Compromise,” they seem to unsettle the ride a little. Cocolotica is a nice introduction by another promising Japanese producer who is similar to Riow Arai and DJ Krush’s more abstract work, but seeing as this is a mishmash of older material the real surprise may be ahead. (Grand Central)