Electronic producer and visual artist Asta Hiroki has steadily built a name for himself in recent times via a clutch of high-quality singles, remixes and an EP. After an extended period spent hibernating in the studio while the world as we know it changed significantly, electronic he emerges in 2021 with his eagerly anticipated debut album 'Entropy'.
Spanning leftfield electronica, downtempo, contemporary jazz, and hip hop, and recorded across studios in UK, Colombia, USA, and Cyprus, it's a glorious collection that sees the producer teaming up with some sizeable talents.
Across ten tracks he combines with a truly wonderful cast that features: Lalin (The Seshen, Tru Thoughts), Muhsinah (Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus, Common) Dontmesswithjuan, Tristan de Liège (Loci Records, Future Archive) and more.
This expansive record is beautifully arranged, with a fine balance between live strings and drums, muscular bass sounds, colourful Fender Rhodes chords, delicate organic textures and intricate sound design. There are knowing nods throughout to the LA beat scene, the Bristol sound, and London's nu jazz upstarts, yet it maintains it's own unique style and aesthetic away from them.
Highlights include the lumbering-yet-nuanced Flying Lotus-esque opener 'Dahlias', the dynamic and virtuousic live drum playing of percussionist Robbie Hookins on contemporary jazztronica cut 'Cherry Blossom', Dontmesswithjuan's dreamy, drifting vocals on 'Slumber', and Lalin's heart wrenching, shivers-up-the-spine vocal performance on 'Left Behind'.
Crafted as a highly conceptual project - many tracks incorporate the albums theme in the music literally, illustrated by real humanistic playing and improvisation being preferred over quantised, or copy and pasted audio clips that give a ‘perfect’ performance.
In the artist's own words:
"This album was made over a period of years where this 'entropy' theme became more prominent for me. Looking at the world and seeing climate crisis, the rise of fake news, the dominance of social media, a spread of populism politics, increases in wealth and quality of life disparity, a pandemic, etc, etc. It seemed to be visible everywhere and inescapable.
It's easy to think the world presented to you is in a certain order as you grow up, but the entropy of the universe is always increasing, naturally slipping towards the unknown, and trying to stop it is pointless. I think there is sometimes beauty to be found in this shift - an unexpected element that brings joy.
These compositions were created with that in mind, and are bound together by the common theme, intending to occupy the both the side of the order that we are comfortable with as well as traveling to the spaces beyond those boundaries."
Programming, Piano, Synths, Guitars, Bass, Drum Machines: Asta Hiroki
Drums and Percussion on 'Cherry Blossom', 'Entropy', 'These Hands (pt.2)': Robbie Hookins
Cello on 'Apparition' and 'Left Behind' - Bela Emerson
Vocals on 'Left Behind': Lalin St. Juste
Vocals on 'Between Love and Happiness': Muhsinah
Vocals on 'Slumber': Dontmesswithjuan
Harp on 'Entropy': Alexandra King
Saxophone on 'These Hands (pt.2)': Tristan de Liege