Justin Hopkins revealed his brilliant Destroyer EP last year on Los Angeles based label NonProjects. Showcasing an exuberant sonic style; full of abstract compositions, lucid visuals and at points encompassing psychedelic and jazz teachings, Hopkins successfully launched his RareBit project on a high.
Daizo is an intriguing title, one which takes its name from Hopkin's grandfather, a similar vein of genealogical concern and respect as Shigeto's recent output on Ghostly International, and not a million miles away sonically. Hopkins' however, offers an infusion of world and jazz instrumentation and ever-changing rhythmic patterns which sets him aside other artists we may compare him to. This is of course an attribute which his label mates; adlr, Asura, Ana Caravelle and Anenon also possess and one NonProjects followers (such as myself) will be accustomed to. Working not only in the role of artist, but of musical director, Hopkins guides an orchestra of fellow musicians, friends and aides to create the wide spectrum of instruments, samples, drum and vocal recordings which comprises the RareBit sound.
On first listen its hard to pin down the album, there's a split in approach represented well by the first two tracks. Keyboards swell into layered stacks of arpeggiated melody on opening track No New Wave, an effect used later in the album. However, from the off, polymorphic rhythms struggle to settle creating an erratic vibrant feel on Running Tangle - the juxtaposition of sounds is rich, and cleverly arranged, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in counterpoint. Hopkins presents very different styles, a microcosm that goes someway to describe what is to come after.
Mt Weather is a lusciously rendered lullaby, composed of springing percussion noises and tidal ambient washes. Mounting layers of light wood hits create a skittering mesh of intertwining patterns - developing, breaking, speeding up and down before ending abruptly. Album highlight Phantom Wall weighs in at just over eight minutes. Repeating synth melodies build, accompanied by an ethereal choir providing an echoing backdrop, phasing and panning around us in an accelerating gyroscopic motion. Towards the later half, this centrifugal force is over taken by tape recordings, and the vocals take on a more central focus. Becoming almost tribal in tone the voices build in strength, amongst a cacophony of horn/trumpet squeals, street noise, and droning metallic reverberations.
Emergence and partnering track Convergence work off each other - whilst the interluding one-minuter Me and You acts as palette cleanser, and final track You and Me as an expected finale.
The polyphony of voices and influences exercised on Daizo is extensive, but executed with an artistic skill that delivers a rich, vibrant and colourful journey to become absorbed within. Some may find it hard to locate themselves on first listen, but this was never meant to play to the impatient, or throw-away listener. Those always on the look out for ear expanding explorations such as this however, will be well rewarded.
Daizo is available to preorder now on vinyl with download card