Michael Santos is a London-based artist who has previously released on U-Cover, Benbecula and the excellent French label, Baskaru. I received the album just as I was about to go out into the Tokyo night for a bit of a photography session, and by this point was on my sixth demo of the day. I wasn’t in any great mood to listen to anything much by this point, I thought I’d give it a few days before paying attention to it. Well, turns out that just before I went out that night, I whacked it onto my ipod anyway, later realising that I had actually deleted everything else on there and was only left with the unmastered version of what was to become ‘Memory Maker’.
It’s a good thing too. As I was wandering around the neon-lit streets of Ikebukuro, the music felt like something of a revelation. The use of static and white-noise elements within drone works is nothing new, yet what struck me was his ability to integrate static and noise under the skin of these deeply melodic tones, imbuing the structures with far more depth than I am used to in the genre. Static is such a strong element in his work, The Wire no less, even described listening to Michael’s music as ‘being drunk in a beehive’. I suppose it’s not a bad assessment, so long as you are a very happy, blissful drunk and not too afraid of bees.
Yet apart from the sheer depth of the work of course, is the fact that through simple guitar and sine wave generation, ‘Memory Maker’ carves out something that is at once micro-elemental and yet really quite grandiose. From the first slow clicks that open the album with Alphaville, to the giant crescendo of Slowdance, ending with the beautiful thinly crusted melodies of Hollowing Out, it’s quite some journey. It’s about as beautiful and intelligently made ambient music as you are likely to find, a kind of urban soundtrack if you will. It’s work that certainly accentuated that nightly walk, and continues to be my Tokyo soundtrack today.
released April 16, 2010
All music by Michael Santos
Mastered by Jack Marchment
Photography by Ian Hawgood