Shot of Love
lthough Com.a's Age Yoshida hails from Tokyo, it wouldn't take a huge leap of imagination to picture him growing up in the same household of Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson. I like to picture them as siblings. While young Tom dutifully absorbed jazz musicianship from their father, little Age mastered all three Super Mario Brothers games. Tom became an expert bass improvisationalist; Age designed Doom levels. Tom's room was scattered with Miles Davis records; Age's with action figures and porn. So it comes as no surprise that Squarepusher's brand of jungled up jazz fusion is released by the respectable Warp label while the pranksterish Tigerbeat6 gives us Com.a's Shot of Love, complete with attention-deficient beat programming and shrill 8-bit bleeps.
Squarepusher is an easy reference for Com.a's style, but where Jenkinson explores the spacey terrain between jazz and IDM, what Com.a delivers sounds firmly (and purposely) grounded in the cheesiest and most annoying sounds in the electronic palette. The combination of rapid-fire beats (mercilessly programmed to cut off all but the opening bits of sound samples) and grating MIDI synths is an auditory slap in the face to every turtleneck-wearing self-professed lover of beats and breaks. It took me three tries to listen to Shot of Love in its entirety, and even then I fast-forwarded through a few tracks.
Perhaps Yoshida has created a record for only the most diligent fans of drill-and-bass, those that can see through the rusty razor bassline of "Bitches from Outer Space" and the irritating bonus stage soundtrack of "Cherryboy Trail" and love the purity of technique underneath. Indeed, I can only imagine listeners more interested in the mechanics of sequencing than in a finished musical product enjoying this. It may explain why Com.a has received props from FatCat and Skam. Certainly the vapid, repetitive melodies don't.
More likely Yoshida is waging a form of sonic terror, taking his style to illogical and unwarranted extremes in an attempt to debase the far more satisfying experiments of Sirs James and Jenkinson (even while those artists attempt to debase their own work by increasingly irrelevant output). In this mess of gaudy digital gimmickry and tepid beat busting, there is hardly a worthwhile track or interesting idea to be found. "Am I Wrong?," a brief excursion into a Mancini-styled organ ditty provides the only respite along the course of this train wreck.
Now, I have no problem with extreme music: noise, breakcore, and other forms of musical experimentation fill up more of my deskspace and hard drive than is probably necessary. Shot of Love is a different beast: Yoshida exploits the precision production that is one of electronic music's greatest advantages, turning it back on itself. This could be an interesting attempt at deconstruction, but that is probably too forgiving for a record that sounds so immature. It sounds like Com.a has bitten that hand that feeds him; hopefully that hand will give him the bitchslap his garish sneer of a record deserves.
Reviewed by: Gavin Mueller
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01