Artist: Ninja Drinks Wine
Label: Altema Records
Catalog Number: ALTM-029
License: CC BY-NC
Release Date: February 10, 2013
If you were to put Candlegravity’s Junpei, Leggysalad’s Shards of Memory and Ninja Drinks Wine’s Sink into a play list, and randomly played a track from each, I probably would have said that Candlegravity we either Japanese, or had Japanese influence, and Leggysalad was definitely Japanese. Then there would be Ninja Drinks Wine, which I wouldn’t have picked as being Japanese at all. There just isn’t a track on Sink that I could find any elements that would clue me into the fact that it was Japanese, much less a release from the same Altema Records that released Leggysalad’s EP.
Instead this is an excellent downtempo, chill release with a quite a bit of experimentation in the finest tradition of ambient works. The opening track, Rain, is an excellent example of this experimentation: the sound of falling rain on metal with a wandering electronic piano sequence that never feels quite like a sequence. A layering of random sound elements that works to produce an excellent mood setting. This give way to the second track: Umbrella, in which a Rhodes piano setting against a funk-chilled rhythm track conveys what it is like walking in the rain, and even the rain sound is re-introduced twice to reinforce the relationship between the two tracks.
Other tracks use ambient drone or abstract sounds as the basis for building on. These underlying sounds form the basis for the structure. Each piece grows organically from its beginning, and turns and twists in relationship to where they started. Sometimes the structures are somewhat familiar, sometimes they seem to wander in unpredictable ways. But, no matter what twists and turns they take they always resolve in a way that is satisfying, never cheating the listener of what they expect from the piece.
And that’s what is wonderful about this release. It is completely satisfying, from beginning to end. There isn’t a track (even the most experimental tracks) that doesn’t satisfy you. But beyond that, with all the twists and surprises, you will want to listen to it again, and on each listening you will find that you missed some little nuance in each of the tracks. Every listening to this release is like that, you are constantly discovering new little bits and pieces that are as interesting and exciting on the 10th listen as they were on the 1st listen. And that’s why it has made it into my collection, and has remained there for over a month, finding tracks mixed into random play lists, or the whole release in play lists of my downtempo releases. It’s as worthy as many other recent favorites, and stands on its own as a unique and multifaceted artistic expression.