New Chabe (Cubismo Grafico): “White Cube” And “Rewind (Holiday 91)”

Last year Matsuda Gakuji’s Cubismo Grafico Five project released their best album to date, the accurately titled Double Dozen, which mostly abandoned restraint in favor of 24 rapid-fire tracks bouncing from pop-punk to reggae to art rock. It was a messy triumph, a group of artists embracing madcap energy to craft a dizzying collection of music. A year later, the ever-restless Gakuji plans to release a solo record titled Me. on March 16 under his nickname Chabe. He’s posted two tracks from said effort online, and they hint at Me. being an appropriately more meditative affair, the jerking madness of CG5 set aside in favor of something more enveloping.

“Rewind (Holiday 91)” finds Chabe alone, surrounded by minimal beat and an ocean of drones. It’s not quite a New Age chill-out spa…he injects just enough kick and weirdness to keep this from Enya territory…but whereas his various output under the Cubismo Grafico umbrella tend to be outward blurts, “Rewind” turns the attention inward. The track’s foggy quality makes understanding the lyrics tricky, but I think I hear something about being “lost at sea” and the general feel here sounds just like that, being adrift and having only yourself for company. A bit more punchy but still pretty subdued is “White Cube,” a lush jog through a tropical rain forest. Though still wrapped up tightly in warm synths, “Cube” skips along and features a legitimate chorus. There’s still something very reflective about it but Chabe knows to also throw those looking to dance something as well.

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