108 is the number of temptations that can lead Man to sin, according to Buddhism. Every New Year's eve at the stroke of midnight, temple bells sound 108 times to expurgate our souls for the year to come. This ritual occupies the middle part in Sarah Peebles' turn-of-the-millennium walk through Tokyo neighborhoods. The American-born, now Canadian composer has studied Japanese music for years. When it comes to life in Tokyo, she still has the ears and eyes of an outsider, although she has long overcome the level of the tourist. Recorded between December 1999 and January 2000, this album takes us on a personal tour of the city inspired by R. Murray Schafer's soundwalks of the '70s. A street preacher greets us, his voice slowly drowned by the sounds of the street as Peebles walks away from his position. Sonic traveling in the subway turns up a collection of chimes, jingles, and miscellaneous traces of technology. At the arcade, the microphone picks up sonic chaos while Sheena Ringo's hit "Kokode Kiss Shite" is heard on the radio. "New Year's Bells" constitutes the sole moment of relative calm, before we visit street merchants. For the "Epilogue," the artist plays around with some of her sounds, processing them for the first time to recap. This sound world comes to us mediated by Peebles' decisions when recording and later editing. She presents a self-contained universe tailored to nourish the listener's imagination while documenting daily life in one of the busiest, noisiest cities of the world. The enhanced portion of the CD includes liner notes and a set of 40 photographs of Tokyo by Christie Pearson.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture