THIS IS A PEN by Foodman
Genre: Footwork, Juke, Experimental
Favorite Tracks: “yo tu u uchi kun”, “higashikumin”
Appearing on the scene in 2012 with SHOKUHIN, Foodman is an artist shrouded by what appears to be a comparably hefty veil of mystery. Based in Yokohama, but housed on the American Orange Milk Records label, who specialize in refutations of and reactions to current trends in electronic music, all of Foodman’s releases are as challenging and captivating as those of labelmates such as Dark Web and Event Cloak. Having already released COULDWORK earlier in the year, in addition to a split EP with fellow Japanese experimental electronic musician madegg, Foodman continues his complex and gripping journey into the dark and dusty corners of grime, footwork, and juke with THIS IS A PEN.
“udon soba” gets the party started with the least accessible beat by a mile. Glitchy, skittering, and taking IDM aesthetics to an extreme, the proceedings are heady, contorted, and nearly impossible to grab ahold of. Washes of distorted voices flux and flow, causing your head to spin, as a singular, plunking synth note serves as a “melody”. Despite an occasional snippet of solidified rhythm (giving the impression that Foodman literally stumbled into it), there is an overbearing sense of a structured and intentional lack of structure. Album closer “higashikumin” is very similar in delivery, kicking off with a blast of noise and an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to programmed percussion. Although things start as convoluted as “udon soba”, “higashikumin” impresses to a much larger degree as a slinking, laid back beat begins to develop that features the nostalgia of vaporwave, if it were to be warped and manipulated beyond recognition. Thanks to this, “higashikumin” serves as the biggest “statement” on the release thanks to its clear response to the facets of internet-era electronic that birthed it. “fire” and “yo tu u chi kun” are Foodman at his most palatable; “fire” belongs on any party playlist designed to facilitate recreational listening, and while “yo tu u chi kun” starts as an ephemeral dystopian dance party, the incorporation of future funk sax towards the end is catchy and an effective nod to electronic culture.
Whilst COULDWORK proved that Foodman can’t quite manage to capture the imagination for the extent of a full-length release, THIS IS A PEN is a clear improvement upon its predecessor in terms of message and technique. The concept of Foodman processing current internet trends and forming them in his own image is an endearing one, and he provides just enough hints of mainstream viability that the casual listener might just find themselves intrigued. That being said, the length of the release, in addition to the complex and alienating opening track keeps THIS IS A PEN from being entirely memorable.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend