Two years have passed since the Tokyo-based trip-hop / dub duo antennasia released their previous album. March 15, 2005 sees the release of a solid follow up, titled Cinemice, which often ventures into different lanes then it's predecessor. Last year sound-creator Nerve (Manabu Ito) said in an exclusive interview with Zenlog.com that Cinemice is more an album of vocalist san (Satoshi Hashimoto) rather then what he himself created on Phased. The result of this is a much more loungy, soulful sound and perhaps with a little more emotion.
Cinemice consists of 14 tracks, including the prologue, epilogue and three interludes. Mind you, these interludes could have been great songs themselves, provided they would be worked out to proper length. Their function, however, is to split the album up into four distinct sections. The CD-inlay states that each of these songs tells an incomplete story and the unit encourages the listener to imagine the continuation. On that note, one could argue that the album is somewhat too short, mainly because it's hard to get enough of the beautiful versatile voice of san (never capitalize her name!). As a result you keep this album close to your cd player.
Let's quickly take a closer look at the tracks on this album. The prologue lays down the foundation for the magic that is to come. Guiding you into the first section which places the listener into the atmosphere of a 1920's loungeclub. Brass dominates these first three tracks, with an ever presence of Nerve's trademark hypnotizing dub bass, which is going deeper then ever on this album. The vocals of san invite you to dream along with her, setting you in a comfortably numb mood for the second section of the album.
Both Blank and Sorrow are two very heartbreaking songs. Blank shows how well Nerve masters the dub genre and san's vocals closely resemble Morcheeba's Skye Edwards on this track. Sorrow follows next and, in my opinion, this is truely the masterpiece of this album. While musically this song is little more then a loop, the marvellous vocals send you off into a dreamstate, where all pieces seem to fall together as they should.
The next interlude brings you into the lighter section of this album, containing the three songs Slumpin', Sofa and Mermaidance. These are songs you could actually dance to, even though the lounge-level is still quite present here. I must say that these tracks are also quite fit for remixing. Although I don't believe any of antennasia's work has ever been remixed, it might not be a bad idea to give this a try.
The final interlude also introduces us to the final track of the album (apart from the epilogue, which is a shorter version of the Prologue). It's hard to place the song Muaratoi, but I gather this is one that came mainly off of Nerve's hands. It's more experimental then any of the other songs and wouldn't have been out of place on their previous album. Think Massive Attack, sometimes going as far as a Tricky production. But Tricky never had san as a vocalist and I can't stress that fact far enough.
Final thoughts on the album then. Don't get me wrong, this is by no means a lounge album. Neither can it be categorized as a typical trip-hop / dub album. They like to call it antennasian music themselves and I guess it's best to leave it at that. As I said earlier in this review, Cinemice is too short. Then again, good things should be kept exclusive. This album will certainly make you want to come back for more. If you liked Phased, you're going to love Cinemice. If you haven't heard of antennasia before, then this album will make a great introduction. An introduction you won't quickly forget.
Label: Double Life Records
Cat. nr.: DLCA-0002
1. Prologue (2:35)
2. Takarajima (6:15)
3. Hayek (5:03)
4. Silky Curtain (5:27)
5. 7 Steps (Interlude #1) (0:43)
6. Blank (5:54)
7. Sorrow (5.43)
8. Let Me In (Interlude #2) (0:39)
9. Slumpin' (4:02)
10. Sofa (4:30)
11. Mermaidance (6:45)
12. Lost (Interlude #3) (2.20)
13. Muaratoi (6:56)
14. Epilogue (1:30)