Introduced by the shorter drones and electronic shimmers of “Alpha, “Beta” which rise up in a revenant scrawl of threat and ominous sounds (including some fine rabble-rousing samples which set the mood of the album as one slightly apart from the merely abstract and instrumental) the centrepiece of Ninkyo Dantai rests on the form of the twenty-minutes and more of “Alpha+”. But first comes “Gamma,” whose rattling metallic sounds at shot through with distorted voices calling through the static like transmissions from beyond the reach of the listener, extirpated and unknowable: are these conversations, movie dialogue or radio communications, the chatter of astronauts, emergency services or CB enthusiasts? They seem to be in English, though otherwise unintelligible; and perhaps they’re simply cut-ups for texture rather than holding any specific meaning.So, back to “Alpha+” – Rafał Kołacki takes his time setting out the different strata of unheimlich electronic choirs and layers of dense electronic processing which appear in ghostly wefts of effects spread so thick as to obscure the underlying environmental recordings of electrical machinery beyond certain identification. It’s this obfuscating tendency which gives Ninkyo Dantai the feeling of being broadcast through cotton wool, of aetheric mutterings and otherworldy compositions; but what’s never entirely certain is if this is coming from a notional heaven or elsewhere – and perhaps even to assume that there is any kind of metaphysical aspect to Kołacki’s music here is to assign too much meaning, to many levels of comprehension added to something which doesn’t need so much interpretation as immersion.
However, it’s with “Beta+” that the album wakes up, tweaks the listener’s interest by bringing up the levels of the scrape and scree, the clank and clunk of electronics – or is that sampled metalwork and machines? – grating on the nerve endings in a way which is guaranteed to grab the listener’s attention, if not enthusiastically then at least unavoidably. “Gamma+” concludes matters in a heaving set of longform striations which frazzle off into the far, far distance where Thomas Köner might perhaps be glimpsed hard at work bowing and stroking his gongs. This is difficult listening, not because of its atonality alone, but because Kołacki has selected a range of tones which set the hairs on the back of the neck a-tingling, alerting to a danger which is nowhere to be found; and that is its cunning trick, at heart, like a psychological horror film without the need for blood, gore or an obvious laid out story, but just as unsettling in the end.