Album Reviews

Album Review: Exotic Sin: Customer's Copy (Blank Form)

Graham Reid
Exotic Sin - Charlie Vincent

Although we respect the idea of pedigree when it comes to racehorses and dogs, it's often harder to make the case for the offspring of great musicians. But this London-based electronica duo of Naima Karlsson and Kenichi Iwasa would suggest synth/keyboard player Karlsson has certainly inherited some interesting musical sensibilities from her grandfather Don Cherry, her mother Neneh Cherry and her father Bruce Smith (the latter of The Pop Group and PIL).

That said, don't come here expecting much like Don or Neneh did.

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Kenichi Iwasa and Naima Karlsson from Exotic Sin

These three strange, other-world instrumentals – with Iwasa on everything from guitar, kalimba, trumpet and plastic plumbing parts – exists in a place closer to music for art installations (yes, Karlsson is an artist/photographer also) or soundtracks for films about foreboding futures (one piece is named for a character in Ridley Scott's Black Rain, "Charlie Vincent").

It will comes little surprise that Iwasa has collaborated with various members of Faust, Can, Cluster, Neu! and Wire.

The 22-minute opener "Dot 2 Dot" opens with a spare and powerful acoustic piano motif recorded with a long, suspended decay before it resolves through what sounds like a wooden flute-cum-saxophone into a piece of improvised atmospheric sound, abstract but deftly beat-conscious noise and staccato effects and . . .

Yes, there is some interesting Cherry-like trumpet from Iwasa in the final five minutes (plus some substructure effects like Jon Hassell has been processed into submission) and that piano remains the anchor the whole way.

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If the evocative "Charlie Vincent" hadn't been named for the Black Rain character (played by Andy Garcia) you would get the sense of urban menace from its slow soundscape cut across by dissonant trumpet squeals and clinking child's toy piano (perhaps?).

Those who remember Jed Town/Fetus Productions works like "Tokyo Rain" and "Flicker" in the Eighties will feel uncomfortably at home.

The final piece, the six-minute "Canis Major", is a further voyage into cold space (the cosmos and emotional) and the clanking technology taking the damaged capsule out there.

As always, this writer covers music which is not always for everyone and right from that uncompromising opener, gripping though it is, Customer's Copy will be a challenge for all but those who are familiar with the reference points.

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Released: 21 Aug 2020

Written By: Graham Reid Graham goes to a proper opera every year just to make sure they are still behaving themselves. Otherwise, he's immersed in everything from indie rock and power pop to world music and free jazz. He has always bought cheap'n'trashy secondhand and shiny new vinyl, and his long-running website has literally thousands of music reviews, interviews and overviews. Search parties have been sent looking for those who have got lost in