Established in 2005 by prolific Japanese promoter/A&R Toshiya Kawasaki, Mule Musiq has become a breeding ground for distinctive releases from producers based all around the globe. The label has gone from strength to strength over the years, churning out a glut of records that are as enduring as they are unique. Joining the ample alumnus that includes the likes of Roman Flügel, Mr Raoul K, Chaos In The CBD and Sandrino (to name just a few), it was only a matter of time before Pachanga Boys’ Aksel Schaufler was christened as part of the label under his Superpitcher alias. Schaufler’s solo yields – more often than not laced with hazy elicitations of damp-eyed reminiscence, melancholy and emotive embellishments – take frequent appearances on imprints such as fraternal ally Kompakt and his very own Hippie Dance label, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Kawasaki invited Superpitcher to contribute to Mule’s ever-growing discography. But the subsequent ‘Sketch of Japan‘ EP is a two-tracker more suggestive of psychedelic brushstrokes daubed with a confident hand than of ambiguous preliminaries drafted upon a notepad.
Upon the A-side lies an appellative tribute to the legendary folk singer Maki Asakawa titled ‘Maki‘– a 13-minute, hip-swinging hypnotic number doused in Japanese influence. Simultaneously feathery and obstinate, it takes its precious time with its movements – something that Schaufler seems to do often with his music (see 2017’s ‘The Golden Ravedays‘project), and nearly always to welcome effect. With a percussive prologue and a steadily emerging, luscious bassline, each layer glides in unobtrusively, Miyako Koda’s come-hither vocals slotting into the apertures of the track like a finely-carved jigsaw puzzle. The high-pitched flutes and elevated timbre of Koda’s voice in the latter half of the track are a timely juxtaposition against the low hums and oriental strings; it’s clear that ‘Maki‘ will make its nesting during the transitional, languid moments of a set, rather than at any climactic period of time.
Although five whole minutes shorter, ‘Mishima‘ picks up the pace with brisk drums and uplifting chords that navigate towards an emblematic sunrise. If ‘Maki‘ were to befit the initial berry-pink hues sponging away the darkness from the night before, ‘Mishima‘ would be the last remnants of the dawn just before the daylight. Flushed synths scatter like birds as they skyrocket upwards, spiralling, rolling… and then dispersing into nothingness as if they’d never existed. An underlying refrain of hopefulness punctures through the sorrow; as the kick drums and driving rhythm drops away completely, the ambient conclusion billows for another sixty seconds before droning away, revealing the space it inhabited to be vast and limitless once more.
The‘Sketch of Japan‘ EP is bold in its illustrations, but demonstrates that the toying of an idea, or the pilgrimage to an apex moment, is just as important as the idea’s final form, or the moment that you thought you had been waiting for. Patience is a virtue, and it’smomentously rewarding when you decide to slow down.
Superpitcher’s ‘Sketch Of Japan ‘is due to be released on 19th July 2019 on Mule Musiq.
Review by Emily Rose Howard