Album Review: Koi Karp – Rivers of Ramen

Koi Karp is an experimental electronic collaboration started in 2018 by musicians Ade Rowe (Harsh Noise Movement, Awkward Geisha) and Igor Jovanovic (Lezet). Rivers of Ramen is Koi Karp’s 4th album and was released May 21, 2020 on Harsh Noise Movement Records.

Opening with the 12.09 of ‘Uptown Top Ramen’ (great title!) this track is danceable and full of bouncy, glitchy electronica loveliness. It throbs with an 80s acid house vibe and has a beat thicker than a Tory minister. One of the best tracks I’ve heard so far this year.

Follow up ‘Arriving’ embraces the more abstract harsh noise elements of this band’s experimentation. Intertwined throughout is some gorgeous 8bit electronica and numbers station influences that I personally approve of.

‘Pickle for my Plum’ is another epic track that spends it’s 8.49 on more 8bit electronica glitch and a rhythm that bores under the skin like a particularly unwelcome phat beat infested grub.

‘Life in the Cow Zone’ is a mixture of harsh noise and unsettling sound collages that evoke memories of Hammer Horror movie sound effects. Follow up ‘Bustle’ is a full on 80s New York house music track that is given a glitchy, spasmodic treatment that sends it into completely different arenas. Something that is impossible to pin down to be honest. ‘Stretch of the Imagination’ is again unsettling. The gentle and subtle electronica layered over the ambient background track sounds like field recordings of insects mating. ‘Nagasaki Creampie’ sounds like the final minutes of a robot performer in a grim 22nd century carney.

Final track ‘Fanfare’ is a dense electronica heavy track that drags itself through the murk, mud and mire of infected and discarded circuit boards, oscillators, mixers, filters, LFO, and envelopes. This is the literal fanfare of the afore mentioned carney performer who decided to have the last laugh as they approached the scrap heap.

Both elements of this collaboration (Rowe and Jovanovic) have extensive back catalogues that should be explored. Apart from selected components (electronica, harsh noise, sound collage, beats) I literally can’t (lazily) attach a genre to the sounds that this album is producing. And this is exactly what I love about discovering new bands. This album grows on you, and you will find yourself returning to it over and over again for no reason other than for the fact that it’s just bloody brilliant.

Review by Ioan Humphreys

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