Pleasure Cruiser & Keita Sano – The Key
Sometimes collaborations can take years of nurturing to come into fruition and hit the record store shelves. Such was the case for the latest High Hoops EP release Tokyo Horoki Part 2. Having graduated from Red Music Academy in 2013, Nic “Pleasure Cruiser” Liu found himself proofreading artist interviews for Tokyo Digital Music Syndicates‘ now defunct Wasabeat digital download music store. Amongst those many interviews two stood out; one was with Soichi Terada and the other with Keita Sano. After being told by fellow office colleagues that it would be ‘muzukashii’ to meet up with Keita (let alone book him for a gig), Cruiser persisted to message the Okayama-hailed producer regularly on Facebook and receiving the odd response.
Eventually, summer came and gave Cruiser the chance to see Keita play at Oppa La, a high-rise venue in Fujisawa just south of Tokyo that has hosted respected names such as DJ Nobu, KZA & Force of Nature. The day involved drinking beers, munching on the club’s Japanese curry and dancing to Ray Mang‘s effortless weave of house, disco and techno. With the sun beginning to set things turned psychedelic. As Cruiser watched the sea peacefully lap the shore with his friend Raul, he spotted a fellow foreigner. Jokingly trying to work out why the ‘English language tutor’ would be hanging out here, on closer inspection it became clear that this was none other than the Prins Thomas. The Norwegian space-disco wizard was standing next to Kenji Takimi who was about to sign Keita to his label Rett I Fletta.
A year after that numinous night Cruiser found himself back in the UK. Managing to book Keita on a European tour, he secured a notable gig at the revered Panorama Bar. The tour concluded with a weekend which covered everything from gigging in Paris to playing a festival set in Reggio Emilia. The final stop would culminate the weekend in Berlin. After Keita completed his set, the duo were given access to a secret room behind the DJ booth. Few hours later Cruiser found himself hanging to the side of the dancefoor when he got a tap on the shoulder from Keita, who was accompanied by the night manager and looked petrified. Apparently the duo had “lost the keys to the whole of the Berghain”. After being given a stern talk and expecting to lose any potential of future bookings, they were relieved to discover that one of the night manager’s mates had taken the key in what now felt like a distant blur. At the end of the night the crew all had a big hug and felt a lot better about the situation. Thankfully Keita got asked back again.
‘The Key’ was originally crafted as a techno track, with the main stab being created by Keita the day after the incident. Cruiser took the stems away and tested a few overlay variations, settling for broken beat and subby take. The drum arrangement of the intro gives a flavour of the early millennium Garage influence. A Japanese vocal sample that eventually enters the framework not only plays tribute to the artists’ shared heritage, but also dovetails preceding celestial pads that deserve a slot in Chichei Hatakeyama‘s library collection. Sturdy bassline flirts with drum-work in a pulsating cadence. Glazed by piano stabs that remind you of the 1990s Dream Frequency releases, the weave of elements caters for the 5am stage of parties run by promoters such as Roots and Picnic.
The newly released EP is a testament of the duo’s commitment to transcending of genres. While ‘Blackout‘ is an acid house TNT of a track, ‘Ecstacy‘ brings a progressive take on tech-house. The fourth track on the project ‘Kibō‘ is a mollifying techno wobbler built for the floors of Cocoricò. Nic claims that Keita has been a major influence to his approach of producing rough and ready electronic music, to an extent of calling him his senpai. If this is to be true, then the kohai has learned well.