Kuniyuki still seems curiously underrated for an artist who can so readily muster hypnotic landscapes both as a live performer and a DJ. This might be because he lives in Japan, and because his sound has evolved rapidly while defying easy categorization. These unheard solo recordings, made at the same time as his work with the EBM group DRP and before the spiritual dance music he released under his own name, reinforce his standing as an exceptional artist.
Once he'd started going to nightclubs in the mid-'80s, Takahashi gathered an array of new gear and set out to craft what he called a "new Oriental sound." Music From Memory and close peers like the RVNG Intl. sub-label Freedom To Spend are primarily concerned with the '80s dawn of bedroom electronic recording. While the music on Early Tape Works (1986-1993) Vol. 1 has the feel of insular bedroom experiments, its six tracks also cover a surprising stylistic breadth.
It's easy to see what drew the label to these recordings. They touch on the new age, ambient and kosmische styles Music From Memory has championed from the start. "Drawing Seeds" is synth music that feels simpatico to the desert wandering experiments Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz released on Crammed Discs. "Signifie" is a loose and funky take on the '80s industrial and EBM sounds that informed last year's Newwave Project LP. The album's centerpiece is "You Should Believe," a ten-minute arpeggio jam with an incanting, uncredited female vocal and loose hand percussion, a thrilling blueprint for the electro-acoustic dance music he'd release on Mule Musiq further down the line.
It's unclear whether Takahashi had any expectations for this till-now unreleased music, or whether he ever expected it to see the light of day. Ambient cuts like "Night At The Sea Side" and "Day Dreams" are pensive, soundtrack-like experiments that summon alien landscapes—Kuniyuki was able to craft uncommonly evocative pieces even in his salad days. That might explain why Early Tape Works is so compelling. Long before he released solo music, before he had even narrowed down what he wanted to make, Takahashi was focused on a larger task: coaxing uncommon atmosphere and feeling from his machines.