Review: Jack Foley
THE Rainstick Orchestra describe their particular brand of work
as 'wide-eyed hyperlink music for waking dreamtime'.
Comprised of Japanese DJ duo, Baku Tsunoda (25) and Naomichi
Tanaka (28), they have been working together for the past four
years, having met while DJ-ing in a Tokyo club together.
By day, Baku is an editorial designer and Naomichi a systems
engineer, but it's the music that drives them and they excel in
what they do.
Using guitars, piano, bass and sequencers, the Rainstick Orchestra
provide music that is minimalist in design, yet quietly affecting
Take Waltz For Little Bird, for instance, the second
track from the wonderfully-titled album, The Floating Glass
Key In The Sky, which contains a sublime jazz vibe about
it, while also delivering some delicate beats and a truly feel-good
It genuinely makes you feel good while listening to it, catching
you off-guard with its quiet simplicity.
The flute that runs through the latter part of Kiteletu
lends the track a slightly mischievous quality, that once more
proves quite enticing to the ear-drum, while the guitars possess
a quietly melancholic feel to them.
The Rainstick Orchestra excel in producing mood music, the type
of which wouldn't sound out of place on a soundtrack, but which
seldom feels pretentious, or filler-orientated.
Powderly is another example of their minimalist approach
working wonders, thanks to an urgent, clappy backbeat and some
wonderful electronic flourishes that, every so often, provoke
comparisons with Lemon
Jelly at their most playful and surreal. The strings, too,
are quite wonderful.
And Electric Counterpoint Fast is, as its title suggests,
a somewhat funkier number, which plays like ambient techno without
ever becoming too ponderous or repetitive.
The material on the album is a far cry from how Baku and Naomichi
started out - the former as a guitar and piano player in both
a Yellow Magic Orchestra covers band and a session group who played
in the style of Maceo Parker and Funkadelic, and the latter, a
former member of a punk band, with a deep-rooted love of the Manchester
It would be interesting to see what happens if they ever choose
to combine those sensibilities - but, for now, we have this excellent
debut album to sit back and enjoy (and it does work best in a
Did I mention, too, that the Orchestra have been signed to the
Ninja label? Looks like the pioneering label has struck gold again!