With Yokosawa-Iri, Kiyoshi Mizutani delivers an excellent CD of field recordings, one that could establish a new standard in this narrow but nevertheless interesting area of sound art. Yokosawa-Iri is a satoyama, a traditional agricultural environment comprising a mountain, a rice field, and a small village. Such locations have become rare in Japan and provide the few last oases where humans and nature co-exist in harmony. Mizutani made all his recordings for this album there. Listeners hear water streams, rocks being knocked, insects, birds, and frogs, but also children, visitors at a shrine, and footsteps. The sound quality of the recordings is crystal clear, but this album is not a documentary. The recordings have been mixed to create an environment, a changing landscape that may or may not reproduce the "original." The artist has combined the recordings into a delicate 60-minute work. It flows smoothly and gently. But despite its peacefulness, it is not meant as background nature wallpaper for new age relaxation. Mizutani mediates an experience; listeners are required to do some active listening in order to enter this timeless world. Albums of this nature are really difficult to evaluate. Their interest resides in the judicious choice of location, the artistry of the presentation, and an undefinable artistic "presence" permeating the project as a whole. Yokosawa-Iri has it all.
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