Anonymity is a a double-edged sword in the electronic music world. While it’s understandable that an artist may want their music to speak for itself, the trope of the anonymous producer has now become so hoary that any news piece about a new ‘shadowy artist’ is liable to be seen as a publicity stunt.
But there are some producers with scant public biographies who are so obviously talented that accusations of using anonymity for attention don’t ever arise. Japanese producer Shinichi Atobe is just such an artist. After a single, beautiful release on Chain Reaction in 2001, Atobe released nothing for thirteen years. It was on a trip to Japan in 2014 that Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty of Demdike Stare tracked Atobe down and discovered he had a wealth of unreleased material. Their first archival release, 2014’s Butterfly Effect on DDS, was hailed by many as one of the best releases of the year.
Two albums later, Atobe’s third LP for DDS, From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art, was released in May this year. Its opening track, Regret, is one of Atobe’s most delicate works to date. Centred around a synth loop that ripples like water, percussion is mostly limited to a muffled kick and a metronomic shaker. The mood is wistful and muted, with subtle additions to the arrangement marking time, from a yearning two-note melody to the unexpected flutter of a piano. It takes a special touch to evoke so much feeling from so little.