Lo-fi producer, rapper, and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Kawanishi was looking for a new challenge after the breakout success of Nostalgia, his debut LP with Nettwerk Music Group. Nostalgia, a pandemic project that reflected on his time in Japan, rocketed Kawanishi from rising producer to an important new voice in lo-fi hip hop.
Kawanishi could have leaned into the shimmering, blissed-out sound of Nostalgia, but instead he pushed himself to explore every corner of the lo-fi space. Inspired by the Hegelian concept of thesis and antithesis, he created a two-part concept album. Iconoclasm (Thesis) (11/25/22), and Splashes of Ink (Antithesis) (3/10/23) represent yet another creative leap into the unknown for Kawanishi. The two-part album is the biggest insight into Kawanishi’s taste and personality yet.
“Versatility was my goal with this new project,” he says. “Stylistically, these projects are very different from each other, but also from anything I’ve done in the past.”
With attention-demanding tracks that shove themselves to the forefront of your brain. Iconoclasm subverts ideas about lo-fi’s purpose as a genre. The songs on Iconoclasm possess Kawanishi’s signature rich layers of sound, and careful attention to every nuanced note, but they are bolder and more imposing. Splashes of Ink takes a more ambient turn, finding inspiration in the brooding instrumentals of post-rock bands Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You, and Kawanishi’s pre-pandemic interest in mindfulness and meditation apps.