Shadowy, tantalizing and overwhelming yet beautiful electronica.
For travellers and literature, Venice has always been the door to oriental magic. Maybe that’s why Giacomo Mazzucato, a Venetian producer, musician and composer in his early twenties, chose his misleading Japanese moniker. But whatever the case, in a time when electronic music has never before been so alive in Italy, Yakamoto Kotzuga is hypnotising listeners with a musical world that draws on cinema and other arts.
Working only with his guitar and computer, he channelled personal turmoil into his 2015 debut Usually Nowhere, full of delicate electronic compositions, suited more for introspection or soul-searching voyages than wild Friday nights. The fragility exuded by the music might bring to mind The xx or similar contemporary minimalists, but there are hints of darkness below the surface – an uneasiness that reflects the difficult time Kotzuga was going through at the time of writing, yet strengthens the core of the songs and gives them a firm backbone. Even the song titles – ‘Futile’, ‘The Awareness of Being Temporary’, ‘I Was Dead’, ‘Cruel’ – don’t try to pretend otherwise, though perhaps the most telling is the title of the final song on the album – ‘The Triumph’.
The record was certainly a triumph, piquing interest both at home and abroad, also due to stylish music video accompaniment. However, instead of taking advantage of the increased exposure, going down the path of least resistance and trying to please broader audiences with a more accessible, lighter sound, Kotzuga seems to have leaned further into the gloom, as evidenced first by his 2016 single ‘T.H.R.U.’, whose synthetic demonic shriek would be quite at home on a modern-day Stranger Things, then with the ‘Slowly Fading’ audio-visual project for the Biennale Musica in Venice. Like most of his offerings so far, both are shadowy, tantalizing and at times overwhelming – yet undeniably beautiful.