Published May 05, 2014Following 2012's stunning iSH EP, Berlin avant-minimal label Raster-Noton presents Is (Is Superpowered), the third album by Japanese-born musician and artist Kyoka, surprisingly the first female artist on the label. Building upon the glitchy sparseness of iSH, the tracks on this new work boast a greater vocal presence and a harder, clubbier groove. The most impressive aspect of the record is the treatment of the vocals, cut up in subtle ways and treated with various filters and reverb.
Is (Is Superpowered) immediately reveals itself to be a compelling work. The surprising cut-up ragga vocal on "Lined Up" is placed just under Kyoka's own voice, creating a welcome yet discombobulating effect, whereas "Rollin & Tumblin" comes across like Raster-Noton's answer to big beat. The album's production was assisted by Berlin luminaries such as label founder and artist Frank Bretschneider and To Rococo Rot's Robert Lippok. In an electronic music world dominated by mailed-in techno, derivative house and tiresome skewed R&B — which Kyoka tackles here with aplomb on final tracks "Piezo Version Vision" and "Mind The Gap" — it's rewarding to see cutting-edge Raster-Noton artists like Kangding Ray and Kyoka retain one foot comfortably in club territory. (Raster-Noton)