Laptop Busman’s Holiday

DSP Holiday is an aural photo album from a true busman’s holiday: three accomplished electronic musicians holed up together in hotels and studios, doing collaboratively that which they generally do individually and professionally, at home, on their lonesome. HAT (to whom the album is attributed) consists of three men: the H is for Haruomi “Harry” Hosono (veteran of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and an early pop-electronic figure), the A is Atom Heart (born Uwe Schmidt, and so prolific that he maintains an LP crate just for his collection of pseudonyms) and the T is Testu Inoue (an accomplished synthesist and microsounder in his own right). Honoso originally released this seven-track album on his Daisyworld Discs label in the late ’90s, and now Otodisc has re-released it for wider consumption.

The holiday theme apparently inspired the trio, because the record is a collection of off-world cha-chas (“Shinjyuku Photoshop”) and retro-futurist garden-party tunes. A track like “Digidelic” may start off with a fuzzy mash of crossed circuits, but eventually someone flips a switch and a dance beat kicks in, stumbling to remain upright. You can almost here a voice cry, “Hey, who spilled their Mai Tai in my iBook?” but it’s all in good fun. “Malihini Mele” similarly starts in a gray zone, all buzz — but the static soon reveals itself to be nothing other than surf, and then a ukulele (yes, a ukulele) comes into focus. As if embarrassed by their mutual enjoyment, HAT felt it necessary to tag a few minutes of hyper-delicate microsonics onto the end of “Mele,” perhaps to prove to their accountants that they were actually working. But if you hold this jewel box up to your ear, you’ll hear the surf, too.

This album review appeared, in slightly different form, in the autumn 2003 issue of e|i magazine.

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