Ivory notes linger and insistently firm out a motif on Grinning Cat, an album of instrumental cuts that alludes to Alice In Wonderland and the antiquated scores of Sunday-afternoon matinee movies. The hesitant piano tremors of "Lost Child" move along like an wide-eyed youth trying to comprehend the curiosities of a dark landscape (as suggested by the intermittent lurching strains, skipping echoes and cascading tinkles) while being wary of cautionary whispers descending from treetops.
Susumu Yokota's sparing use of sounds evokes the unreal, taps into familiar narratives, and is striking and pithy. The lazy piano refrain of "Sleepy Eye" comes to a tremulous close, only to loop over and over, evoking with a gentle irony old movie clich&eactue;s of Technicolor sunsets and beach bars by palm trees. The panicky clatter, foreboding bass and trumpet notes of "Fearful Dream" seem clipped straight from a hardboiled detective film, only to lapse into chaotic percussion and the retro tinker of a humdrum piano-bar tune.
Despite Yokota's evocation of dated archetypal film sequences, Grinning Cat has a strong contemporary feel. The siren-like urgency of "Love Bird" and the maddeningly repetitive rhythms and handclaps of "Cherry Blossom" have an urban edge, while "Flying Cat" ticks away to a climbing tension, like an electronic sound image of a tide coming in.
With all his digital tinkering and hoarding of found sounds, Yokota has created a release full of smooth, beguiling segues, a haunting and cool selection of nocturnal instrumentals that leaves you with the imagination of Alice and the smile of a Cheshire cat.