Best of 2020
The Economy of Alternative Histories is as rich as ever. Having first brought that mesmeric Pale Cocoon record back into the world, Conatala have again unearthed another gem, and in equally impressive fashion may i add. World Standard have no little status with the YouTube algorithim/NTS deep cut cabal given their connections with Haroumi Hosono's Non-Standard imprint, but Asagao is so obscure it might even throw them a loop. Pre-dating the first official WS releases, Asagao is a collection of home recordings made by the duo while living with Michio Kojima's parents and originally formed one of the first 'demos' to be passed on to Hosono. The result is as charming as you might expect, while also completely at odds with the City/Synth-Pop popular in Toyko at the time, and utterly removed from the Vanity universe and punk/hardcore expressions that occupied much of the Japanese underground. In some sense, you might hear this as nostalgic when compared with their peers. This is cassette culture allied to a return to the simplicity of folk expression, artfully rendered in minimal form, a palette of pastel shades of private melancholy and intimately shared gestures. Much of the instrumentation belongs to toys and homemade percussion, often accompanied by unplanned ambient sounds. You can hear the outside world encroaching on their vision while they remain utterly unaffected by it. Like with Pale Cocoon, i somehow hear Young Marble Giants and some elements of Flaming Tunes in here, the ossifying of private univserses into new worlds to explore. This is the real economy of these alternative histories. May it remain this infinite.