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ryoji ikeda and carsten nicolai
raster-noton   2001
  see also
dutch east india

album rating: 2

submitted by jc smith on 25-Aug-2001
From what I have hard from Ryoji Ikeda's previous work, he likes to explore minimal electronics dysfunction or, at least, the sound of the undercurrent of electronic activity that surrounds all of us. It's never quite grabbed my attention, not that it's bad, it's just a bit too... spacious--minimal to the extreme, at times. (I base this on having heard only a couple of his previous releases, though, so if you told me he's dipped into Merzbow territory as well, hey, I would not be surprised...) What Carsten Nicolai (Noto/head of Raster-Noton) seems to do is condense the sounds and give them rhythmic thrust, with exemplary results! The eight untitled tracks (well, "C1," C2," et cetera) ruffle the electronic plumage, each snipped feather of glitch-wound, corrupt noise knotted into models of disarray. Track two blips, piercingly hums, and stumbles through a pot-holed landscape, bubbling over with twitchy rhythms, the twittering mistakes (failed connections, slivers of ragged tonal debris) assimilating a quirky percussive allegiance. Track four opens amidst bruised, inflamed static hums, convulsive urgency aligned as a collage of disparate electronic futility, the moist sounds pasted together at awkward angles. Track five balances a machinery pulse rhythm, sounding like a muted bass guitar, around higher pitched utterances that sing in sharpened tones, the whole exercise held together by a steady stream of focused, slightly shifting dynamics. The sound of the higher pitched tones as they puncture the sound-field (a distinct, rubbery sensation) is the key to the rhythmic propulsion, before slipping into a mesmerizing pace over the last half of the track. The whole of Cyclo builds on the ability to mold rhythms from the discarded deluge of 'wrong' sounds, the tones and timbres and mistakes so easily erased in the process of creating music. The pairing here has created one of the finest examples of what can be done with error-prone, minimal electronics by giving it a looped, rhythmic focus. Impressive!

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