Although the full length album “Sadistic Skatepark” by Japanese group COS/MES was released mid-2007, it never quite made it into Western countries and received the exposure it deserved.
It was released as part of an exhibition in Japan featuring the work of designers and artists closely aligned with the Japanese skating scene. The Sadistic Skatepark was a full-size ramp, installed in a clothing store in Tokyo, made from iron, and covered in dangerously protruding bolts (the ‘sadistic’ element of the ramp).
Many of the tracks on the album are interspersed with the sound of skateboards rolling on the iron ramp, and refer in name to features of the exhibition.
For example, the first track — which uses a forward slash for its name — is the Iron Stick symbol of the exhibition. Every Sadistic Skatepark CD was issued with a small iron bar inserted into the empty spine of the plastic casing. These bars were meticulously hand-made, and tie into the iron ramp and iron skateboard imagery.
The majority of the tracks on the album are laid-back, jazz-infused grooves — the sort of music that goes well playing in the background of an exhibition — but there are a couple of stunners, like Fanfare Maniac, which has a mid-seventies Tangerine Dream style arpeggio, with timpani rolls and a strong melody. It’s epic journey music with a slightly manic edge; and Iron Deck, a deep house track, with a nodding 303 bass line, and deeply delayed clattering metal, giving it a soundtrack quality. A stuttering vox line comes in mid-track that paves the way for a fantastic melodic flourish.
There is an amazingly diverse range of sounds on this album; I’m not sure whether they are sampled or created from scratch, but they really fill out into an interesting album to listen to. The raucous Slam is another good track, as well as Ramp, an upbeat rock number with an eighties feel.
The name COS/MES might be a play on the German word ‘kosmichë’ — as many of the sounds on this album have there origin in this vein of electronic music. The two artists behind the work are DJ Flatic and 5ive. Flatic regularly DJ’s in Japan, and has released a number of mixes on the Sound More label.
COS/MES are also part of a group in Japan known as iseneehihinee, which includes graffiti artist MUSTONE, design duo Haroshi and clothing line Friendick, VJ and video-artist Heartbomb, and a number of others, including Mixrooffice, which has staged events in Japan bringing out artists like Daniel Wang and Derrick May.
Build the Band and Fanfare Maniac were released last year on a 7” vinyl by Swedish label High Feelings, with the cover artwork featuring photos of the Sadistic Skatepark ramp. The track Build the Band is also on the Prins Thomas ‘Live at Robert Johnson’ mix CD, which was released in May this year. COS/MES also have a new track — Natural Lifespan — on the Mule Musiq/Endless Flight various artists compilation, ‘I’m Starting to Feel Okay’ Vol.3.
COS/MES are a really interesting group, with great sounds and wide musical tastes. ‘Sadistic Skatepark’ — as well as any of their future releases — are worth getting a hold of.
03. slide show
04. 088 skate
05. poser, poser
06. he is rain man
08. fanfare maniac
09. iron deck
10. like a virgin point
11. ramp / cos/mes
12. sadistic skatepark / cos/mes
Sadistic Skatepark is out on Sound Wave Construction (Japan)
Thanks to Jonny Nash for assistance.
SADISTIC SKATEPARK EXHIBITION (MUSIC BY COS/MES):