Exemption From Meaning

Toshimaru Nakamura, Dafydd Roberts,
Angharad Davies, Rhodri Davies & Andrew Leslie Hooker
Exemption From Meaning | Listen to the Voice of Fire (CD/DL)

Dafydd Roberts has been the instigator of live performances in Aberystwyth in Wales under the symposium name of Listen To the Voice Of Fire.  The desk recording issued on this particular CD involved four other artists that Roberts had invited, including Japanese no input mixing board champion Toshimaru Nakamura.  This was Nakamura’s Welsh debut, and the concert was sold out.  The group of improvisers devised an object-oriented score based on Aberystwyth University’s collection of Japanese ceramics.

First piece, Katsue Ibata_c1244 (an excerpt), begins with a delightful scree of whistling noise that simmers down into a bubbling mix of electronics that crisscross and form a tightly bound mesh of competing frequencies.  What I liked here were the little splashes of reverb that added depth and colour to the proceedings.  At less that four minutes, it certainly feels like an excerpt, as the title implies, and I wonder how the rest of this section was on stage.

Pilgrim_c843 follows, and at a duration triple the time of the opening track, there is a lot more space for sounds to slowly generate into different forms.  This sense of breathing space creates a more ambient soundscape, although essentially still constructed in a noise format.  Acoustic instruments can be heard quite clearly in the mix, allowed to float above the sine waves and electronics.  A beautiful, long sine wave rises to the fore, no doubt coaxed from the channels of Nakamura’s mixing board, that hovers over everything before suddenly cutting off to give room for other performers to inject their sounds.  A hushed silence descends halfway through to focus on smaller details, before letting loose with some satisfying sine-noise to close the track.

Ryoji Koie_c1243 is the longest piece of the album, coming in at just shy of half an hour.  Immediately, that lush reverb effect is used to process little gusts and blasts of electronics, and my ears are instantly attentive.  This piece feels like the whole group are in constant communication, and a maximal piece of fiery electronics builds to a crescendo until, around the final third, things settle down into an insectoid chatter of more intricate, intimate sounds.

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