Koji Asano: Momentum

asa-m.jpg (16k) Koji Asano: Momentum
(Solstice - 2000)

Quite different from Koji Asano's other recent releases (the solo piano sounds of Preparing for April and Flow-Augment's avant chamber ensemble), Momentum (his 14th Solstice CD) really gets going in the experimental noise department...

Koji's own cover photography of some deserted industrial facility is quite fitting for these grungy exercises in audio-isolationism.

Asano placed two microphones against the woofers of two loudspeakers, capturing the movements of air pressure then amplifying them again and again. To create the everchanging waves of reverberation, the speakers and microphones were moved, and mixer controls were readjusted.

The ruffling rhythmic pulse of 10'35 (track titles denote their length) thrums with machinelike regularity, strung through with screechy waves of feedback. With 42'33, staccato clicks, intermittent sheets of distortion and occasional squeals deeply scratch the warm, grittily droning undersurface, all of which fade in intriguing "natural" cycles of sonic decay. The often harsh environment evolves/devolves into various modes, some of which are strangely soothing; others are simply assaultive. The scritchy high-pitched wavering at 33 minutes would be an example of the latter... The track winds down to a subtle hum...

Talk about flutter and wow... 17:08 is sliced by careening high frequencies, then jack-hammered with abrasive low rumbles... (I think can hear the speaker cabinets vibrating... or is it my skull?). Like a muffled drill, the powerfully burrowing soundcycles seem to probe and recede. Hypnotic textures emerge during the lulls, to be disrupted by honking feedback as if from an overblown saxophone. The piece ends with faint, but ear-piercing, squawls which fade to that forgotten realm... silence.

For me, Momentum definitely falls into the "there's a time and a place for listening" category. I wouldn't recommend this one if your nerve endings were already a bit frazzled... but when you're feeling peaceful enough to take it, these audiodistortions make for fascinating exploration. I'm giving Koji Asano an 8.4 for indulging his experimental nature and capturing these ear-opening convolutions of sound. 8-4.gif
This review posted May 29, 2000

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