K2 – IsoDoping (C48, Robert & Leopold)

IsoDoping is a tribute to all of those lost during the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, a raging blend of harsh noise that exhibits the anger and frustration of how that tragedy could have been prevented. It doesn’t expressly say it on K2’s release, but the J-card features grainy pictures of atomic bomb clouds and a woman, battered and bloody, carrying her injured child. The titles, too, are full of blame – “Pollution Game in Secret”, “Invisible Terrors in Fukushima” – with a connotation that there was no protection available to the citizens when the nuclear plant began to leak out its toxic radiation.

Like all of K2’s work, IsoDoping is full of harsh electronics, often mixed with Korg feedback and his signature Nintendo DS-programmed Korg. If you’ve heard K2’s work before, you’ll likely know what to expect here, although there are times where his noises surprise you – the aforementioned short track “Pollution Game in Secret” tends to stick to a set thematic structure throughout, a method that K2 rarely utilizes. The lengthy “Level 7” often sounds like there’s an alarm ringing off in the back of the noise, a sustained droning sound that categorizes and contextualizes the shards of noise that often judder off into space, never to return. In all, these tracks are often high-pitched, full of sharp feedback and abrupt cuts, and they’re certainly noise that recalls the destruction of the giant earthquake that hit Japan. One will even find some manipulated but “normal” sounds coming from some of the synth K2 uses; the irony created in decomposing this normalcy with harsh bursts of noise, decimating each with the randomness that K2 seems to work with in his art, is haunting.

“Invisible Terrors in Fukushima” continues the sort of tendencies found on the first side, and it’s about the same length as “Level 7”. We get a lot of juddering higher-pitched tones withsome of the synth’s natural sound coming through the electronics damage, plus another background drone that somewhat carries the track with a structure. Otherwise, however, this is another brutal track of K2 doing what he does best – extreme shifts in tone, constant jarring cuts, and an ethos to never return to a common motif.

As I said before, IsoDoping is common K2, and the idea behind this artist never really changes. Surely the combinations of sounds do, and if there’s anything that IsoDoping does very well here, it is completely assaulting the listener with numerous harsh sounds. It’s a fitting tribute to a period of time in Japan that was very confusing, chaotic, and painful for all involved; the emotions I can never truly understand because I did not experience it, but the noise does a good job of emulating it.

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