Andrea Neumann

ATØN

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Andrea Neumann and Toshimaru Nakamura create extraordinary improvised music from two very unusual sound sources. Neumann plays a specially customized piano stringboard, removed from the instrument's body, laid flat, and affixed with all manner of devices, electronic and otherwise, and generally approached in a style similar to that of Keith Rowe (though certainly with her own strong personality). Nakamura performs on a no-input mixing board, an empty machine; by reconfiguring wires and reversing outputs, he manages to obtain a wealth of rich sounds much as Sachiko M does with her empty sampler. The music is steadfastly electronic-sounding, irregularly rhythmic loops (from Nakamura) supporting and intertwining with a vast array of whistles, scrapes, howls, and blips, all chosen with astonishing grace and agility. There is a bit of an industrial edge in some of the harsh tones, but Neumann often supplies surprisingly tonal, even romantic gestures from her strings, though they are usually subtle enough to appear as ghostly tinges. The level of detail is staggering and the sheer inventiveness of the musicians holds one's interest as firmly as a good thriller soundtrack. The closing call-and-response track is oddly (and deliciously) disturbing, as if the listener is eavesdropping on a conversation between an alien species. Fans of contemporary electro-acoustic improvisation should greatly enjoy this meeting between representatives of the Berlin and Tokyo scenes. Highly recommended.

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