I was raised and weaned on bands such as Dark Funeral and Napalm Death, so I’m no stranger to sonic extremes. However, the new album by harsh-noise artist Kurumi Kadoya stopped me in my tracks. Recorded between 2021 and 2023, Surga rata-rata is an album on which Kurumi Kadoya sculpts and shapes sonics, twisting music into untold configurations and builds monolithic structures in the worship of some strange deity. Surga rata-rata is not always an easy listen, and it’s certainly not recommended for the faint of heart, but those willing to explore its uncharted depths will unearth a wealth of buried treasure.
It seems that First Birthday is the perfect title for the brief opening track. If we consider a birthday a fresh start, a new beginning, then that’s exactly what we get here. When approaching the music of Kurumi Kadoya, we should do so with an open mind; it’s like nothing you’ve (probably) heard before, and your mind should be cleansed of any preconceived notions of what music should be. The tonality employed on First Birthday resonates with the listener on a primordial level and alters the very fabric of our genetic makeup. It’s slightly unsettling, like the result of some strange military experiment, and you’d better get used to it, because this feeling of unease and discombobulation will echo throughout Surga rata-rata.
All of the seven tracks that comprise Surga rata-rata are infused with their own personality, and no more so than on the title track. It creates the feeling of something so vast and expansive, that it can barely be comprehended. It’s a nuclear reactor melting down or the universe at the moment of inception and, like Godflesh or Swans at their most expansive, leaves the listener feeling dwarfed beneath its towering brilliance. A piano recital echoing from another, ghostly dimension, ai-ki-ei is light and airy (though still distorted) and makes the perfect foil for the maelstrom which surrounds it. Light and shade, the loud and quiet, all reflect the other to make this album a multifaceted listen.
Music that hides its melody deep in a ball of fuzz, is infinitely more interesting than a pop song that hits you instantaneously. Your brain has to work harder to uncover patterns and motifs, and that’s what makes Kurumi Kadoya’s brand of noise such a satisfying listen; the effort/reward ratio is far greater, and therein lies the prize. Such is the invasive and encompassing quality of this album that you’ll feel strangely empty at its conclusion. The silence that follows is eerie and leaves a void to be filled, so I suggest you press ‘play’ again.
1. First Birthday
2. 運命 (Unnei)
3. Surga rata-rata
5. 自分が見えているものが全て (Jibun ga miete iru mono ga subete)
6. Parallel circuit
7. Surga rata-rata2
This release is available as a digital album and (limited) cassettes through the Indonesian label Gerpfast Records (Bandcamp).