Meitei’s 2018 album Kwaidan was one of the year’s slow-burning successes. Originally released on cassette through Evening Chants, Kwaidan’s reputation eventually grew to such an extent that it was named one of the year’s best experimental albums by Pitchfork. A combination of growing interest in Meitei’s work, the artist’s excellent recent Komachi LP and the fact that tapes from the original edition now go for big bucks means that this Kwaidan reissue comes at a good time. As well as another run of cassettes being produced, Evening Chants have also used this opportunity to give the album its first vinyl pressing.
Kwaidan remains a unique and heady listen whatever format you choose to enjoy it in. While the record’s foggy tracks elude easy classification their influences are numerous. The sloppy, syrupy end of the Brainfeeder sound is easy to detect here - similarities with Teebs’ contemplative vignettes are particularly strong on cuts like ‘Sankai / ⼭怪’.
However, generally Kwaidan is far stranger than the generally beat-centric heights of Flying Lotus et al. The manner in which cuts are often swallowed up by murky, indistinct passages of sound hint at influences from both the industrial and concrete traditions, while warped clusters of organ on ‘Mushiro / 筵’ nod to Visible Cloaks. Furthermore, Meitei’s practice is explicitly concerned with creating a contemporary ‘Japanese mood’, and as such the presence of the country’s leading avant-gardeners like Susumu Yokota can also be detected.
Meitei’s dense Kwaidan gets a welcome multi-format reissue through Evening Chants.