Mesmeric new long-form drone work from some of the goddamn masters of the form, Juppala Kaapio aka Japanese cosmonaut Hitoshi Kojo (Kodama et al) and Carole Kojo, reputedly their final working: this is a set to swoon by, just heart-breakingly beautiful violin fragments that sound like Henry Flynt teasing moon’s milk from a cluster of softly beating stars re-worked for maximum far-off swoon appeal by William Basinski.
Going beyond even Pelt’s vision of hillbilly minimalism, Alpen Ocean floats all the way out through skies full of bird call, slow-motion sunrises, indecipherable unknown tongues and what Kojo terms “cosmopolitan ethnic music”.
Fans of Coil circa Queens Of The Circulating Library, Taj Mahal Travellers, Axolotl’s Telesma et al pretty much need to hear this, the perfect long –form environmental drone vision and one of the deepest head spins of the year.
An omniMEMENTO indeed, the duo of Carole and Hitoshi Kojo migrating from Switzerland for Belgium leave us a swan song of preternatural power drone. Fertile sound creation blending field recordings, electronics, handmade instruments and the human voice; so a babbling brook is stirred by the same force that makes viola strings sway.
On “Alpen Ocean” their voices are like monks, praying to unseen birds (and reminiscent of the queen of Monks: Meredith). Waves of flanger course through this track, which at 12 1/2 minutes undergoes a sea change, the waves then come less frequently, but speckled synth dots the skies. When the voices return they take the form of winds before vanishing.
On the “flip” side, we have “Atlantic Alps” where the buzz drone of flies marries with vox angeli to create a sonic afterlife that is both peaceful and unsettling. By the end though, bells ring and clouds part and the gradual transformation is complete.
Overall the harmony of man and woman, of analog and digital, of organic and synthetic is striking here, even more beautiful than the packaging.
Thurston Hunger (KFJC)
So lovely is the work of Juppala Kaapio! That said, we must sadly report that the Japanese / Swiss, husband-and-wife duo have stated that Alpen Ocean will be their final album under the guise of Juppala Kaapio. Another project is in the works, and they are planning to unveil whatever this may be sometime in 2014.
Many of the drone-clad works we champion hedge their bets with the power of the darkside; but there are plenty of choice examples of rapturous, celestial tones and holy minimalism that seek to enlighten rather than darken the consumers' mind. Juppala Kaapio's small catalogue of lovingly crafted minimalism figures somewhere between the summer solstice nature jams of the Finnish freak-folk types and the twinkling harmonics of Terry Riley and LaMonte Young.
As for Alpen Ocean, a brightly hued psychedelia of a sunburst and snowblind tableau is rendered through the wide-eyed sense of awe and wonder after calmly sipping a cup of psilocybin mushroom tea. Carole Kojo's delicate falsettos waver into a meditative chorale through tape loops and delay amidst the slow kaleidoscopic arrangements of chiming bells, bowed gongs, glassy electronics, and a few pastoral field recordings thrown in for good measure.
It all comes together into bright, rapturous drones that Juppala Kaapio's Hitoshi Kojo describes as "overlaid harmonies of a murmuring of trees, howling skies, roarings of the ocean and the gradual transformation that are accompanied by melodies which may remind you of migratory birds travelling across the sky on a lost ancient continent, or the dream of sea animals that are in eternal slumber in a ridge of mountains."