ULTRACOMPUTER – DECISION MOMENT
On 5 November 2016, the lights at TKX Vault flickered for a brief moment with the release of DECISION MOMENT, an eleven-track EP from ULTRACOMPUTER. It came as quite a surprise, seeing as how TKX Vault notably shut down following the release of Hong Kong Express, the much-publicized swan song of the Hong Kong Express project by HKE. DECISION MOMENT replaced Disgraceful. by Shima33 as entry “TKX-026” in the vault; Shima33’s album was entirely deleted from the catalogue with as little notice as any fanfare that accompanied the return of ULTRACOMPUTER.
ULTRACOMPUTER’s previous two albums rank among the best that TKX Vault has to offer. INFINITE 新しい生命システムの音 is a surreal signalwave-style release that plugs into the mainframe of a glitching computer terminal in central Tokyo, and SUPERCARTRIDGE is used and abused early eighties arcade music – or it sounds like it. Next to these two bombastic albums, DECISION MOMENT is quaint. Seven tracks run for less than a minute. The mood is so subdued; there are no crazy glitches, loud voices, or major jump cuts; just simple progressions with Japanese vocal samples layered with reverb, as if they’re mumbled into an old microphone.
While it’s easy to dismiss DECISION MOMENT as an afterthought, its softness is its strength. Both INFINITE 新しい生命システムの音 and SUPERCARTRIDGE played up the datedness of their aesthetic through acute and chronic hardware failure, respectively; the former in the glitches, the latter in the click-click-click of a decrepit cassette changer. These themes often resulted in intrusive and abrupt production decisions – especially on INFINITE 新しい生命システムの音, where the hyper-speed jump cuts of signalwave are at their full force. In contrast, DECISION MOMENT is more like a slow degradation of software, and because of that, it sounds far warmer and less alienating. The music is firmly in the mid-range, as if years of playing that virtual library welcome-song have worn down the groove.
DECISION MOMENT is quiet, but its restraint and easy familiarity it one of the most unique additions to the TKX Vault catalogue, which often featured works that were challenging in harshness, drone, and noise. Somehow, DECISION MOMENT feels like a fitting coda.
1. BALANCE – (1:03)
2. BELIEVE – (0:49)
3. CLIMB – (0:41)
4. DAY – (1:05)
5. EXCUSE – (0:48)
6. IDLE – (0:30)
7. INFILTRATE – (1:08)
8. MEMORY LINK – (1:23)
9. START – (0:48)
10. NAVIGATE – (0:35)
11. PRINT – (0:50)
note: shima33’s disgraceful was distributed by tkx but was never on the bc page