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Loke Rahbek & Frederik Valentin Buy Corals Online Editions Mego

Buy Corals Online is Loke Rahbek’s latest offering in collaboration with label-mate and KYO’s Frederik Valentin. Rahbek is one of 30 Scandinavians who are part of experimental music outfit Posh Isolation, also a defining Danish label. This new album adds to the success both artists have had in the last year: Croatian Amor & Lust For Youth with the “bubblegum industrial” record Pomegranate; Rahbek’s solo project City of Women; Rahbek and Christian Stadsgaard’s noise act under the alias of Damian Dubrovnik; and Brazil – Valentin’s collaborative project released last year on Posh Isolation.

Heavily inspired by the Japanese concept of ‘ukiyo’, Buy Corals Online was recorded in Valentin’s studio, close to Copenhagen’s new aquarium. ‘Ukiyo’, which translates as “free-floating world”, is a term used to describe Japan’s “pleasure seeking” Edo period (1615 – 1868). This term originated in Yoshiwara, the licensed red-light district of modern Tokyo, and was abundant with brothels and theatres. The term has an ironic dual meaning – “sorrowful world”: much like the concept of hedonism itself, though pleasure may be attained, the means of doing so can sometimes be less than honourable. Buy Corals Online quietly embodies both definitions.

It is a work of profound serenity. Rahbek and Valentin juxtapose moody synth pads with traditional Japanese strings and percussion. Tracks such as World in Camouflage are reminiscent of Leon Vynehall’s Midnight on Rainbow Road and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to Twin Peaks. In the track Who Is Love Now? a pentatonic piano riff is undercut by the sound of a chair rocking, a door opening and a brush sweeping, and these nuances bring Rahbek and Valentin’s dreamy sound into reality. Throughout the record, Rabek and Valentin elegantly emulate the sense of duality in the idea of ‘ukiyo’. In this near-perfect ambient album, which is absorbing and unpredictable, splendour sits in equilibrium with disdain.