Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Death Praxis

Tenko/Ikue Mori: Death Praxis. Posted by Hello

Women's History Month at HurdAudio continues this evening with a listen to the 1992 release of Death Praxis by the duo of Tenko on voice and Ikue Mori on drum machines.

"Magic" kicks off this 17 track excursion with a trickle of drum machine patterns that settles in just enough to allow Tenko's half sung half chant voice delivering a Japanese text. Tenko's voice has great stylistic range. For a brief moment she launches into a meandering operatic sound as the drum machine shifts into its own restless realm.

"Hearse" is like an antidote to the cliche European "electro-acoustic" sound of female voice over a bed of concrete sound. Death Praxis adds an edgy, hard-core quality that gives this music a physicality missing from the musique concrete genre. Tenko's range keep this material sounding fresh and intense as the sonic textures frequently shift between contrasting qualities. At times she pulls back to a whisper and other times she bursts forward with an aggressive utterance. She can sing, or deliver a near tone-less inflection as the drum machine samples are mangles by all kinds of processing. Ikue Mori does an excellent job of varying the frequency saturation and even pulling all the way back from time to time.

"Death Mask" is ear catching. The melody sung is attractive and the "groove" of Mori is engaging. Built on a light texture of conga, wind chime-like bells, a short record scratch it makes for a great backdrop as additional, dense material phases in and obscures this starting point. The counter texture suggests a contrast between staccato, militant sound against a softer linear expression.

"Economic Noise" uses Tenko samples in a manner similar to the drum machine programming. It's amazing how engaging and spirited these textures are.

"Glow Worm" sustains some intriguing textures as Tenko overdubs hypnotic chants while Mori supplies percussive punctuation of varying degrees of subtle. Late in the work luxurious stretches of silence unfold with well placed interruptions of single gestalts from the drum machine. These pick up until there is no trace of the vocals that began this piece.

"When the Sun Shines I Can See Your Mind" sets off with a crackle and a groove leading into Tenko's sustained cries as a textural foil.

"I Know You" is the most overtly melodic and satisfying track in this set. It marks an excellent conclusion to a fascinating journey through a dense sonic jungle thick with ideas.

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