KOAN Sound : The hedge at the bottom of the garden

In traditional Zen-Buddhism, a Koan would be a riddle, whose ultimate goal is to overcome the borders of mundane and logic thought and culminate into enlightenment. The question ‘What’s the dharma body of Buddha?’ would, often after years of thought on the topic, correctly be answered with -for instance-  ‘The dead hedgehog in the rain’, usually accompanied by the establishment of Satori’s soft yet fiery glow within the pupil’s eyes.

‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’ is the question the young, Bristol-based duo raise on their stylistically marvelous homepage, but that’s of no further concern to us (doesn’t matter anyway if there is no one to hear it…). What does concern us is their new EP. Unusual as it may seem to bring this subject into a designated drum&bass blog, I ask the kind forgiveness of the reader, and, as even the mighty mage Phace spoke with delight of the Dubstep/Electro House/Whatever – producer/DJs, might count on it. For it’s absolutely worth to scale down one’s BPM-expectations by around 60. The Adventures of Mr. Fox represent the whole spectrum of KOAN Sound in a way I tend to describe as sexy, and that is perfectly shown already in the opening title, 80s Fitness: Embedded in the always clinically tight Bass- and Snaredrum-hits -stomping in infectious simplicity-  is a tender synthesizer-symphonie, composed of retro-chic in perfectly up-to-date sound. Thrilling from the very start, big and yet completely controlled, KOAN Sound continue to show why they belong with the forefront of modern electronic music with the EP’s second track, Eastern Thug: Just their art of harmonic treatment in the track’s framework  exceeds the common setting of somewhat dreamy yet cheap emotional cadences by far, as it eventually gives way to an uncompromising and razor-sharp piece of music, while impressively showing that there is a Dubstep-bass far from regurgitating. Epic.

The third track, Sly Fox, is somewhat classic KOAN Sound: A fluffy jazz-intro almost seamlessly culminates in an almost prototypical main part, but whilst dangerously contributing to the dangerous accumulation of saxophones in present electronic music never really crossing the boundaries of good taste. Those who appreciated Meanwhile In The Future will do just fine with Sly Fox, even if the latter cannot really catch up with its predecessor (as I find it). The EP is concluded with the appropriately entitled Introvert, where Dubstep-basses, more saxophones (mind my warning!) and a wary yet glitchy percussion-dress are carefully interwoven with melancholy-strings and deep piano chords, heavy with meaning. Sounding a bit like music for closing credits, it leads well out of the wild party in the fox den.

That leaves us with the three enclosed remixes, of whom only one is truly made to last, and last long: Hamburg-duo Neosignal, very much capable of the exceptional as proven in their Stigma-remix, had a go on Eastern Thug to much of my acclaim. Continuing on their path to greater musical forms (as it became obvious in their last meisterwerk, Progression), the remix eloquently tells the Far Eastern legend of the biggest basses ever buckled on Taikos. And I myself do feel a little like the child, who wanted to hear the same story over and over again…

KOAN Sound – The Adventures Of Mr Fox (OWSLA) – http://soundcloud.com/koan-sound/sets/the-adventures-of-mr-fox/

KOAN Sound – Eastern Thug (Neosignal Remix, OWSLA) –http://soundcloud.com/neosignal/koan-sound-eastern-thug-2

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