Toshimaru Nakamura


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Given the overabundance of advanced electronic instruments like synthesizers and samplers and their overuse and abuse at the hands of whoever could buy one, it was a necessary and refreshing correction when musicians who approached the situation from exactly the reverse stance began to appear. Toshimaru Nakamura and Sachiko M., both prominent members of the Japanese avant-garde scene of the '90s, play their instruments in the condition they are received from the factory: empty. Armed with only those sounds capable of being generated by the bare machines, sine waves, clicks, pulse patterns, and "glitches," the duo manages to create an extraordinarily rich and deep soundscape, conjuring rewarding music from thin air. Regardless of the source of these sounds, the results bear some affinity to certain prior musics: Alvin Lucier's experiments come to mind though Do is entirely improvisatory, not a controlled experiment. At times, the ringing tones of Steve Reich's writing for the higher registers of glockenspiels comes to mind as does the severe electronic landscape evoked by Fripp and Eno in their "An Index of Metals." While the generally pervasive hum of the sine waves may make for difficult listening, the willingness to surrender oneself to their sonic bath leads to great rewards. The interaction between the two musicians is as empathetic as that among improvisers on "traditional" instruments, all the more impressive considering the uncharted territory they're exploring. Highly recommended for listeners interested in exploring the outer reaches of electronic improvisation at the turn of the 21st century.

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