Ryan Hill, a.k.a. KAGAMI Smile (“Kagami” means mirror in Japanese) is based in Illinois, in an industrial town not far away from Chicago and at times in Shenzen, China. He has published a string of works as KAGAMI Smile in the past three years on labels such as Dream Catalogue, TEKRES, Gin&Platonic. His previous releases focused on vaporwave-inflected techno (as Andrew Ryce from Resident Advisor put it, “the occasional wrongness of Kagami Smile’s techno helps make it exciting”) as well as more ambient-oriented sounds: inevitably, one of KAGAMI Smile’s strongest source of inspiration are Chain Reaction ambient techno records, together with more recent ambient explorations in the vein of Grouper and Jefre-Cantu Ledesma.
Antithesis of Human is his latest work, published on SØVN Records. This “recent output of music has reflected various dreams I have of mysterious meetings with strangers and the dystopian nature of my work in a certain Brutalist office building”, as he describes it. Inevitably, the music is claustrophobic: it reverberates across halls of processing units and runs along with unending cables through empty spaces. The place where this music takes the listener, therefore, is not a place of reality. Rather, it is a space of dreams of reality, of hallucinations – which is what digital representations of reality are: “thirty minutes of floating in the void hearing whispers through cracks of a dream”.
The two opening tracks, HUMAN 1a and HUMAN 1a2, although extremely different, are both bound together by their being extremely mechanical in their progression, endlessly repeating pads and beats. SELF 2a1 is on the contrary uplifting and aethereal, bringing back memories of a raindance danced under heavy rain, where SELF 2a2 is the ritualistic sound of the drums which accompany the ceremony as it would be performed by computers. The ending track, CLIMATIC LOOP a1, is the perfect way to bring closure: a beautiful ambient track which peers into the very heart of nostalgia – “picked up a yin and yang necklace only to be met with a fleeting glimpse of false memories”.
Let it rain.
released October 8, 2019
Artworks by Dystopia Kid