async (2017)

2sakamoto_async_cover

Mego feel all over this. Something abrasive and indigestible about the electronics and timbres; difficult to let it fall into the background. (and the cover)

Solaris vibes from the organ on ‘andata’ (returned to on, er, ‘solari’) but thickening swirl of electronic fuzz and rippling synths creates a new sense of claustrophobia; a bit of Drøne’s Reversing Into The Future in there at the end. Gusty, like when a strong headwind pushes your breath back down your throat. (‘solari’ is dreamier, not far away from a Peter Strickland soundtrack)

Arrhythmic plunking on ‘disintegration’ – strange title for a track that slowly assembles itself with added instrumentation; sense therefore of construction through breaking away – metronomic percussion like slow work of a chisel. (this is a recurring trope [abstracted on ‘ZURE’] – all recalling Alva Noto’s Vrioon…) Half-life. Eerie inseparability of manual and electronic elements. Suggestibility of visuals (slow pursuit on foot) not surprising after RS’s great work on …The Revenant OST.

‘ZURE’ introduces a hint of noisy, processed field recordings which becomes lucid on the hypnotic ‘walker’, a highlight: steps on frosted grass, leaves, stones, puddles among drones, wolf call synths and gong hits. Brittle particularity of that Kim Myhr / Trondheim Jazz Orchestra / Jenny Hval album from last year. Builds on sense of algorithmic assembly (see raindrop cymbals on ‘tri’) to introduce stronger suggestions of unpredictability: how intentional in recording? Here and all over a the beauty is in the arrangement, the life and death or artificial animation of sounds colliding.

Abrupt tumbling synths on ‘stakra’, which glitches (Haunt Me) and floods without adding momentum. Return to manual arrangements on ‘ubi’ with a sonar pulse wandering between l and r channels, bouncing around persistently beautiful piano steps. Again juxtaposition of building tension and metronomic consistency, like monitoring a bodily pulse under flowing thought and feeling.

Then ‘fullmoon’ recording: “Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times…” Suggestions of decay and finitude begin to take shape after recalling RS’s recent survival of cancer. Drones return as different languages loop over each other; sense that they are saying the same thing confirmed by “finie de la vie … combien de fois…” Everyone everywhere is having the same experience, in the same situation, seemingly incomprehensibly separate but in fact identical. After the mood a has established these speeches wash past you not with the whiff of gimmick but an unsettling chill.

‘async’ blurts in with Greenwood polyrhythmic col legno and wooden string strikes. It’s a bracing rush but the incongruous sequencing feels a little too studied and chin-strokey here. Those Mego raindrop cymbals on ‘tri’ suddenly cut into a glitching light-show, like petrifying midi-fication. Weird poem (apparently David Sylvian reading Tarkovsky Sr.) on ‘Life, Life’, again universality; “and this I dreamt, and this I dream, and sometime this I will dream again…” “to one side of the world” “to wonder I dedicate myself on my knees like an orphan” “dreams, reality, death, on wave after wave.” Huge and particular images of pervasive beauty of humanity. (sincerity without pomposity) If everyone listened to this we could collectively forget Cloud Atlas.

‘honj’ far-eastern zither (guqin?) treated with echo and gentle rain. Dislocated eclecticism of that Olivier Alary record. Beautiful washes of ‘ff’, thin synths like a finger round a glass, respiratory flow of Soliloquy for Lilith.

a bottoms out into ‘garden’, echoes of the opening organs like the view of Kris from among the weeds underwater.

Constructive variety (asynchronous, perhaps) but tonal consistency; strange melancholy, persistence but fragility. Really the sort of album I’ve been waiting to hear, with some slightly less satisfying experiments and occasionally wobbly sequencing. A crisp and sobering experimental album.

8

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