Yamaneko is on something of a roll right now. 2016 brought two albums for Local Action, under his own name and via the Mr Mitch collaboration Yaroze Dream Suite. Even the producer’s mixes are something of an event, often including new material while hinting at his ongoing involvement with Peckham’s ambient sound-bath New Atlantis.
Commissioned to write music for a series of European spas, the role comes just as the producer’s golden streak gains wider attention. Growing into a far broader exploration of aesthetic, the project has now been released as nine-track mini-album ‘Spa Commissions’.
Fusing down tempo BPMs with entirely gripping arrangements, ‘Spa Commissions’ is a lucid, entertaining treatise on the interlocking conversation between club tropes and the ambient/new age nexus.
Essentially laid out in the form of a full day, opening track ‘Suzuka (Morning)’ glides into view with a graceful sparsity, those trembling gong tones recalling a sunrise meditation workshop. ‘Glacial Heal Aid’ uses tinkling Tibetan bells and the occasional lurch of low-end frequency, the project gaining in intensity at the tracks unfold.
A remarkably beautiful affair, ‘Spa Commissions’ is one of Yamaneko’s most fully developed melodic works, with tracks such as ‘Royal Beluga Comfort Zone’ bursting like scented soaps in the most luxurious of sound baths.
A sonic relaxant, ‘Spa Commissions’ tends to focus on one sustained mood, an experiment in aesthetic concentration that nonetheless allows the gentle texture of emotions. Darker hues intrude upon the project’s second half, with ‘Yaeyama Islands (Setting Sun)’ and ‘Crystal Palace Dolphin’ utilising slightly more barbed, metallic sonics.
Genuinely engrossing and frequently fascinating, ‘Spa Commissions’ underlines the sheer wealth of ideas in Yamaneko’s work, a producer able to create music with an identifiable context – in this case European spas - and conjure something universal, with an incredible depth of emotion.
Far more than a mere chill out soundtrack, ‘Spa Commissions’ taps into fresh currents in ambient composition while refining Yamaneko’s astute musical sense. A real wonder.
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