Ryuhei Asano aka lee (asano+ryuhei) returns with ’15’ another formidable collage of skittering drum rolls, wistful melodies, beautiful block chords and braggadocio rap instrumentals. This kind of juxtaposition isn’t rare but it’s rarely done this well.
lee creates worm holes between decades – transporting 90’s Hip hop artists into other eras so authentically you’ll be imagining Nas in a tuxedo leaned against a piano in some gambling joint in Storyville .
Asano is a master of percussive depth, peppering his tracks with possessed metronomes, dust entangled needles hitting wax, mic’d up pots and pans escaping down brownstone stairwells. It’s the combination of these raw swinging drum tracks and the light touch applied to the rest of each song that makes them special – a solitary mournful horn here, some sparse rhodes, a lick of found sounds and plenty of skillfully deployed silences.
This release is special in another way. You can’t have it! Well you can but only if you go see lee live and claim one of the mysterious Kanye masks you see on the album cover. Know anyone else who doesn’t sell their music on their Bandcamp page? We neither. But this is no Paypal fuck up. Asano is trying to revitalise the spirit in which we used to find and buy music.
Before instantaneous MP3’s, you would find out about a release from the radio or a magazine, save up your dollars, wait, then after release date, you would trek to your local record shop and exchange your money for goods. It created a memory, an event around the music, it gave it value above and beyond how much it cost. As lee says “It’s getting easier to get music. I thought it would be fun to make it hard. I also want to meet people who support me.” This is a sentiment we admire and far outweighs the slight pain and itch of not being able to lay our hands on this beauty two seconds after hearing the first two seconds. As a painter, illustrator, and all round performer Asano is exploring the interactive and reaching out to people with more than just his sounds.