**300 copies** First emerging within the Belgian experimental underground during the early 2010s, over the last few years Pak Yan Lau has delivered a number of incredible solo and duo efforts that have placed her at the center of our consciousness. Her latest, Bakunawa, recorded with her own ensemble and jointly issued as a beautiful LP by Cortizona and Stuk, might just be our favourite yet. A stunning expanse of rich, intertwining tonality, it’s easily among the best records we’ve had fall into our hands all year.
Pak Yan Lau is a Brussels based sound artist, improviser, musician, and composer, who first appeared within project like Going - a quartette with Giovanni Di Domenico, João Lobo, and Mathieu Calleja, Eggstream - a trio with Di Domenico and Norberto Lobo, and the large-scale ensemble Dream & Drone Orchestra. Over the last decade, she has developed her own singular sonic universe, blending acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic approaches and working both as a vocalist, as well as with prepared pianos, toy pianos, synths, electronics and various sound objects across a number of solo efforts, in addition to live and recorded collaborations with Chris Corsano, Akira Sakata, Tatsuhisa Yamamoto, Tetuzi Akiyama, Rie Nakajima, Toshimaru Nakamura, Susana Santos Silva, Lionel Malric, Darin Gray, and numerous others.
Bakunawa is a continuation of Pak Yan Lau’s solo project Book of Toy - first issued by Silent Water within the triple 10” release, Solo Books, in 2015 - an effort within which she built upon the natural overtones of toy pianos and pendules. Bakunawa takes this already dynamic sonic pallet one step further as work for a five-piece ensemble, featuring Lau on gong bars, toy pianos, metal objects, and electronics; Giovanni Di Domenico, João Lobo, and Mathieu Calleja on gong bars, toy pianos, and metal objects, Vera Cavallin on harp, gong bars, toy pianos, metal objects, as well as further electronics / sound interventions by Christophe Albertijn.
With the album’s title as a conceptual clue - Bakunawa is a serpent like dragon from the Philippines, who eat moons, an act that is prevented by playing on pots and pans to scare her away, while instruments are used to lull her to sleep - as the work slowly evolves across the LP’s two sides, it emerges as a staggeringly beautiful intertwining of the magical and poetic within the realm of experimental sound. Dissonances dance with harmonics as the ensemble generated resonant, sustained overtones ambiences with the gong rods, prepared harp, and metal tubes, before giving way to a hypnotic rethinking of ritual ceremony music, as the distorted toy pianos and percussion played by the ensemble issues hypnotic rhythms and patterns that simultaneously nod to minimalism and gamelan music.
Truly stunning from start to finish, Pak Yan Lau’s Bakunawa is an absolute triumph and easily one of our favorite records of the year. Issued in a very limited edition of 300 copies, accompanied by an insert, it’s not going to sit around for long.