Saturday, March 26, 2005
Ushio Torikai: Go Where?
Women's History Month at HurdAudio continues with a listen to Go Where? recorded at the IRCAM Studio in Paris in 1985 by Ushio Torikai.
"Shamama" starts off this disc with the juxtaposition of shamisen and electronic sounds. The shamisen is a Japanese string instrument with a long history. The electronics, on the other hand, have not aged well since the '80s. There is a clear interaction, a co-existence between the two timbral sides of this composition as the electronics do seem shaped by the tone and improvisatory sound of the shamisen. Which is part of the imbalance of this piece. The shamisen part could stand on its own without the electronic accompaniment (it hardly sounds responsive to the swirl of digital tones surrounding it). I love the crisp, percussive attack of the shamisen timbre. It's difficult to feel much affection for the other side as the electronic sounds would be rendered hopelessly hollow if isolated from the animating force of the shamisen sound.
"Junk" opens with an amplified breath that turns to slowly whispered and processed speech played against an amplified creaking noise. The whispered part is eventually subsumed by the creaks in the foreground as a stringed instrument enters the sonic frame. This composition then concludes with a crashing thud that finally puts an end to sound of this heavy hammock swinging in the ear. The processing of the whispered material is well done. The delivery is aggressive and slow with plenty of panning effects. Having it obscured by the creaks seems to add to its mystery.
"Sei" consists of overdubbed vocal parts that form a chant composed of sustained tones with brief bursts of heavy vibrato framed appearing in individual lines at fairly regular intervals. The layering of this many voices creates a large, hypnotic droning sound. The difference tones that appear like mirages are fascinating. I would love to hear this idea developed over a span of hours at a time. At seven and a half minutes it seems like an introduction filled with promise.
"Go Where?" opens with the ringing tones of temple bells. The long decay is allowed to layer with several different pitched bells that beat against each other as they fade away. This decay sound is then captured and isolated electronically as the harmonic qualities of these tones are then presented as a focal point. This sonic environment then expands and exposes incredible depths hidden within the timbre of ringing bells rich with jarring dissonance and sublime consonance.
"Miyori" begins with a series of gestures played on the koto that build outward both harmonically and melodically. As the koto part settles toward a linear, "walking" line a wordless vocal part consisting of long sustained tones is added. This composition then concludes with a brief, improvisatory break-up of the koto line.