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Japanese producer Ena mutated drum'n'bass and dubstep as far as they would go, creating fractured, shifting soundscapes built on deep low end, fragmented rhythms, and field recordings. Born Yu Asaeda in Tokyo into a musical family, he started playing guitar at age 12 before discovering drum'n'bass in the '90s. It was in this idiom that he first began to make his own music, inspired by the likes of Photek, Krush, Source Direct, and Renegade Hardware. In 2006 he joined the Back to Chill crew, who hosted a popular Tokyo club night. Two years later he started to sporadically release his own productions, initially putting out less than one single per year. At the same time, he made ends meet with a day job composing and producing for mainstream J-Pop and idol groups. A string of singles for French imprint 7even culminated in his 2013 debut album Bilateral, released on the same label. Loosely rooted in bass music but featuring highly detailed sound design, with most of the sounds built from the ground up -- it saw him leave drum'n'bass behind entirely. The buzz created by the album led to his signing by Horo, the Berlin-based label then a subsidiary of Samurai Music Group and home to experimenters such as ASC and Sam KDC. Ena fit in perfectly with the then-nascent "grey area" scene blurring the boundaries between techno and drum'n'bass, and a string of releases for the label followed, including some on unusual formats for dance music (7", cassette). The CD and vinyl formats of his 2014 sophomore album Binaural had completely different track lists. His third album, Søil (2016), for fashion house offshoot label Niløs, was an almost completely ambient, experimental soundscape; the following year he returned to Horo for his fourth album Divided: Mind, which saw him go deeper into his abstract post-drum'n'bass style.
© John D. Buchanan /TiVo
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