Tokyo Black Star / Black Ships (Innervisions)

Tokyo Black Star

On their debut album, New York based DJ Alex from Tokyo and producer Isao Kumano intend to utilize the geographic distance between them as fuel for a message of galactic travel via sonic spaceways. Yet, even though their sound is rooted in the movement of a steady 4/4 thump, many of these grooves tend to feel particularly taut and restrained, making much of the album seem more geared toward the sedentary confines of a home stereo. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any burners—songs like “Violent Rush” and “Reincarnation” have a funky strut with just enough edge to propel a dance floor from a tempered sway to a sophisticated stomp. But the appeal of most of the tracks is not in the beat, but rather the warmth of the analogue synths coursing through them. It’s the depth and richness of these retro-futuristic chords that also does the most for invoking thoughts of outer space. So while feeling slightly contradictory and under cooked in places, Black Ships still manages a midnight cool that is very of its time.
Zack Kerns
File under: Metro Area, Henrik Schwarz, Dixon