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Uncovering Corruption

The Japanese musician who goes by Corruption, that is

I listen to a lot of music by musicians about whom I know very little. This contextual void is the nature of the internet, a medium that aspires to a state of frictionless-ness. The circumstance is exacerbated by my listening habits, which tend toward digital crate-digging, a longstanding inclination toward hypertextual windings through Bandcamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, message boards, and other places where musicians post their work, often under pseudonyms, often without any information at all about who they are, where they live, what they are up to in life, or what constitutes the music they have posted. Add to it foreign-to-me languages, no matter a bookmarked Google Translate at the ready, and even the more loquacious sources of music can remain opaque.

And of all the near-anonymous musicians I follow, few exceed for me the intrigue/knowledge ratio of the Japan-based individual (it appears to be an individual, but may be more than one person) who goes by the name Corruption — drop the “u” to access via SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/corrption. I’ve been listening to Corr(u)ption at least since the end of 2013, by which point the account had accumulated several dozen tracks, ranging from avant-garde hip-hop to urban field recordings. As of today, that count is well past 500.

There are, still, ways that information accumulates, even against such a musician’s perceived intentions. For one thing, there is rewinding the path that led you to a particular music recording. (In the case of Corruption, however, I can’t reconstruct what that path was.) For another, it is through association, such as, in Corruption’s case, the musicians who also record for the Damade record label. A new release on Damade, from the Japanese post-rock duo Kasetsu (in English: “Hypothesis”), includes remixes by other Damade roster members, among them Corruption. Even if we can’t get a bead on Corruption, we can triangulate certain musical motivations by listening to the before and after of Corruption’s remixes. There are two on the new Kasetsu album, which is titled simply /01, and a third and fourth on Corruption’s SoundCloud account.

The original of Kasetsu’s “ONOMAT” is a tasty bit of instrumental post-rock, echoing Tortoise’s time-signature mirages and Shellac’s visceral tendencies. In Corruption’s hands, a hard, rubbery reverb is put on the track, so it reflects back on itself in quick, merciless bursts, exaggerating the original’s metric complexity into something nearly psychedelic.

“Assob” adds a bit of lounge jazz to the mix, giving the track the feel of a forgotten Minutemen song — it moves back and forth between noticeably different segments, as much collage as verse-chorus-verse in structure. In this case, Corruption cuts the original by more than half, and forces it into a more martial cadence. Like the original, it speeds up as it goes, eventually becoming a pachinko parlor scored by Carl Stalling.

In addition, there is “line” on /01, which sounds like the economical backing track to a new wave song. It’s not difficult to imagine Debora Iyall or Ric Ocasek’s voice suddenly appearing. In the soundcloud.com/corrption reworking, Corruption notices the slight reggae quality to the original (shades of early Police, perhaps — Stewart Copeland’s syncopations were certainly post-rock premonitions), and amplifies it into casual robotoic dub that becomes enamored of its own repetitions. There is also a reworking of the first track off /01, “Express,” which is the most violently transformed of the batch, a shuddering explosion of fragmented loops. Throughout the remixes, we get a fix on Corruption’s interest in dub and the varied potential impacts of repetition.

Get the full album at damade.bandcamp.com. More from Corruption at soundcloud.com/corrption.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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