ryoji ikeda: ::matrix

ike-m.jpg (12k) ryoji ikeda: ::matrix
(touch - 2001)

Conceptually stronger than the final reality perhaps, ::matrix provides one disc of ryoji ikeda's sound-and-motion tone-drone experiments... (he supplies the sound; you supply the motion); and a second CD of more-active, more-fun (and still quite analytical) micro-house sounds.

A little numberform art represents the tracks, as recreated below; at left is the track listing to disc one, matrix (for rooms) (59:58), and at right, .matrix (31:01). Observant readers will note the binary progression formed in each numerical grid.
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Pretty cool conceptually, though a bit unwieldy for referring to your favorite track... "Man, I thought my brain was going to explode when 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 started cranking out those self-replicating loops!"

I do much of my listening at the computer through headphones, and there found myself surrounded by a single wavering tone which began to pierce each ear, panning back and forth between them, scouring everything in between, but then I read "matrix (for rooms) forms an invisible pattern which fills the listening space. the listener's movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music". Ahhhhh... "for rooms", so into the living room...

The more-or-less unvarying soundwaves (seem to?) form assorted rippling patterns, varying only slightly. The first track, 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 (12:00), segues directly into the next, to be slowly infiltrated by a lower frequency thrum, a drone more palatable to this listener. That spartan soundstream pulses into the third shorter piece (one of four clocking in at 4:30), only gradually developing its own style of fluctuations, temporarily picking up a rhythmic blipsystem. And so it goes...

Now, by turning your head and/or slowly moving around the room, the sounds do change, slightly... perhaps with a little more patience and better-developed neck muscles I could have learned to "play" a particular tune, but mostly only get a bit of an not-excitingly-noticeable up-down-up-down pitch shift, sort of. It's a mildly impressive science experiment, but I don't know about a whole album's worth of it... and I felt kinda silly there in my living room, craning my neck and creeping around in different directions; maybe I'm just not into "working" for my listening reward.

A second disc makes for an entirely different story... So sterile are the sounds of .matrix, they seem experimental in a downright clinical sense... but something happens as the continually flowing (and much more animated) tracks evolve from the starting point of 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0's heartbeat, static and high thrum/warble. Going through several crisply documented metamorphoses, by 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 you've got an electron-microscope version of a dancefloor-shaking club number; bassy pulsations are topped with rhythmic blips and light syncopated glitchery. Very cool, even under the 'phones... it's like all the instruments in a darkened laboratory suddenly clicked on to form their own style of a deep house party.

Whether you're providing the movement, or letting miniature electronics move you, the two discs of ::matrix give a couple different ways to explore ryoji ikeda's scientific soundspaces. A pretty cool audio-phenomenon doesn't necessarily translate into "listenability", but I've got to give an 8.2 overall, for clinical ear-testing and for microgrooves.

Another of many fine offerings you'll find storehoused at Dutch East India

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This review posted February 28, 2001

AmbiEntrance © 2001-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).