Yosi Horikawa – a master-class in sound


“Have you heard of this guy?” the subject line read on an email that a friend of mine sent me a few days after he had returned from this year’s Sónar festival in Barcelona. Perhaps out of jealousy for the fun my friends had had without me at my favourite festival in the world, my finger hovered over the mail for a moment before clicking and opening it. All there was inside the mail was a link to a Youtube video; “Yosi Horikawa?” I thought, “Never heard of him”. Then I pressed play.

It was enthralling. A cacophony of sampled sounds – rolling marbles, a plastic bottle hitting a table, bouncing table tennis balls – all flooded out of the speakers, underpinned with a dreamy ethereal melody. Admittedly I have a nice pair of Bose speakers, but not even Four Tet or Caribou sound this lush on them, I thought. The depth of sound Horikawa reaches is unparalleled, the samples seemingly both in time and out of time with each other, swirling around as if the objects are bouncing invisibly around my bedroom.

I’m not afraid to admit it when I don’t know something. A wave of embarrassment hit me, this guy was clearly Japanese yet and I had no idea who he was. I quickly fired his name into google and brought up a bit of information about the man behind the music. Indeed, he is Japanese – born in Osaka and relocated to Tokyo for university – and has been producing music since he was 12 years old, overdubbing sounds in his bedroom to make his very first tracks. By day Yosi works as an architectural acoustics designer (hence the attention to sonic detail in his recordings!) and currently he is signed to French label Elektik Music. He is also a recent product of the 2011 Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid. Searching a little further I discovered why my friend had sent me the video. Yosi was named as one of the “big winners” in XLR8R’s Sonar festival round-up for a magical performance he gave at the festival:

“[Yosi Horikawa] may not be a well-known name now, but his set at Sónar indicated that great things are on the way. His productions skew towards fuzzy, mid-tempo beats, but there’s something intrinsically uplifting and enticing about his music, something he showcased while performing live and filling SonarDôme to the brim on Thursday afternoon.”

The festival has a peerless reputation for showcasing off-beat and innovative talent (this was where I caught my first performances of acts like The Knife, Hifana and Daedalus) and had come up trumps again, it was just a shame I wasn’t there in person. I will be looking out to try and catch this guy live in Japan in the very near future and I suggest you do the same. Information on Yosi can be found here and you can download a copy of Bubbles for yourself, entirely free, from the XLR8R website.

Words: Mark Birtles

Translation: Iona Nagata

September 10, 2012 • Share on TwitterShare on Facebook