In 1985, Mangaka Yoshihisa Tagami penned Grey. Now, seemingly all but forgotten, it remains historic as it led the vanguard of manga translated and serialized in the west. Approach is Lawrence English's homage to the lasting impression the manga left on him as a 13-year-old. After rediscovering it in 2021, he was struck by how internalized some of the manga's themes had become and was compelled to create a soundtrack as a form of distorted mirror to its pages. What results is an intensely episodic study of Tagami's renderings of the humans, landscapes, and technologies that haunt the speculative world he depicts. Approach is a potent and affective work which acts a distant sonic pyre of a smoldering future that feels acutely more tangible than it did when Tagami first imaged it.
From Lawrence English: "... This album, Approach, is an echo that has travelled with me for 33 years, even if I wasn't fully aware of it. It's a record about memory, about how seemingly cursory encounters shape us and how experiences accumulate in time . . . The record draws its root from Yoshihisa Tagami's seminal manga Grey. In many respects this album is a soundtrack to that manga. What makes Grey unique, in the west at least, is that it was amongst one of the first manga to be translated and distributed outside of Japan (yes, even before the touchstone that is Akira). It was one of the first droplets that has since become a torrent pouring outward from Japan. It was also the first manga I bought for myself, when I was 13, and read as a serial. I tend not to think or speak very much about my teenage years. I had some profound experiences that have carried forward, I forged deep emotional partnerships that carry to this day. The majority of that time however was something of a slog, a day-by-day performance of self-preservation . . . All boys' schools, one of which I attended, are a maleficent prison if you are not participating in, or as was my case you are maintaining an antithetical position to, hegemonic masculinity . . . It's difficult for me to quantify how much cultural consumption happened during my teen years, but I recognize now how formative so many of those exposures have become. An example of this came into sharp focus last year when I happened to remember, and then reread Tagami's Grey. As laconic and occasionally unlikable as the main character, Grey, might have been I associated deeply with their sense of determination. Grey's rejection of societal expectation, and his refusal to accept the immobility of systems, and social codes, clearly resonated with me . . . This record then is also a kind of sonic postcard retrospectively drafted for that very unsteady and volatile version of myself..."