Thursday, March 14, 2013

Toshiya Tsunoda - The Temple Recording (edition.t)

Toshiya Tsunoda - O Kokos Tis Anixis (edition.t)

Tsunoda released these two double-disc sets as a pair and I think considers them pendants of a sort, though they're quite different from one another.

"The Temple Recording" is the more immediately entrancing of the two. The idea is simple but resonant: Take stethoscopic microphones, augmented with an additional mic faced toward the environs, affix them to one's temple and concentrate on the landscape at hand. Do this with two persons. The inward mics pick up the individual's blood flow muscle movements and such, the others provide an indication as to what he's experiencing, to some extent causing those interior reactions, resulting in "a record and evidence of our real experience of the landscape". and indeed ones hears s low, soft pulse, presumably the blood coursing through the temples of Toshida and Koichi Yusa, his partner in contemplation, as well as, marvelously separated, birds, breezes, mic movements and other sounds, crisply limned in stereophony, one observer per speaker.

That's all. But as with many of Toshida's projects, there's so much more, ineffable though it tends to be. The tracks total about an hour, the environs shifting, though not enormously so; the comings and goings of the bodily sounds, to the extent one can recognize them, seem to be more affected. But what pervades is an extreme sense of clearly perceived but very, very calm mental acuity, much as if you were participating in the activity and doing so seriously and with relaxed concentration. I like listening to it at low volume, blending in, so that when a sound like the gentle moan (the wind?) in the third track on Disc Two emerges, one is momentarily confused. Not sure what else to day. Ever since "Scenery of Decalcomania", Tsunoda has been responsible for, to my ears, much of the very best field recording work around. This is another.

"O Kokos Tis Anixis" is a different kettle o' fish. A set of eight pieces, total over 144 minutes, wherein the basic units of sound are field recordings (descriptions of which are found in the titles, such as, "the sounds of ashes bursting in the fire built by fishermen"). But Tsunoda has taken tiny slivers of them and formed loops, some quite brief, some longer and re-inserted those loops into the original recording, rather like creating intentional glitches. Just before writing about this, I saw a post from Gerardo Albatros referencing a wooden chest, carved so as to appear as though seen on a glitch-filled video screen. This is something of the feeling I get from these works: a "normal" scene interrupted by electronic brambles made up of fragments from that scene. Admittedly, on first listen, not knowing precisely what to expect, I leapt from my seat, fearing the disc had destroyed my CD player.

It's a toughie. Tsunoda varies the kind of glitch quite widely; I'm not sure if the same burp repeats throughout the set. It's hugely disorienting (when overt--sometimes the insertions are subtle enough to bypass easy notice) and, given the general lush pleasantness of the recorded sounds, one's initial reaction is likely to be displeasure, resenting the "rudeness". I was first concerned that the attack would pall over such length, would be reduced to a kind of gimmick but, rather surprisingly, found that the longer the set lasted, the more I accommodated myself to the interference. Like much of my favorite field recording work, the sounds began to make a kind of sense that was next to impossible to quantify, those sounds here including Tsunoda's manipulation.

Both releases are mysterious and fascinating, wonderful work that should surely be heard.

Available via Erst Dist

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