Various Artists

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Five microlabels (A Bruit Secret, Fragment, Hibari, Pricilia, and Vert Pituite) joined hands to release this compilation. The stark packaging provides no information as to the concept of the album, but the title and the fact that each track is a duet between European and Japanese musicians indicate that they are email collaborations. All these artists adopt, at least for this project, a less-is-more aesthetic (call it reductionist, onkyo, or simply quiet improvisation). The music is thus highly abstract, prone to gaps of silence, and consists mostly of quiet noises. And there are some fantastic finds among the nine pieces. One of them is Jean-Philippe Gross' duet with Utah Kawazaki: an intelligent piece, demanding but also entertaining in its own way, Kawazaki's burpy analog synth fooling around Gross' electric drones. Quentin Dubost (electric guitar) and Yasuo Totsuka (mixing board) provide a puzzling piece filled with tension without release. The most surprising track is Portuguese accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro's duet with Japanese vocalist Ami Yoshida (of Cosmos). They both use their instruments in ways that are impossible to trace back to any traditional form of playing -- the accordion is nothing more than a sounding device, the voice sounds like computer glitches. The piece by Taku Unami (banjo) and Norman D. Mayer (guitar) goes too far into silence, loosing all cohesion to ramble on for eight minutes. The closing track by Fabrice Eglin (guitar) and Kazushige Kinoshita (violin) sees each musician occupying one channel of the stereo spectrum, their contradictory contributions (one a noisy drone, the other very quiet pizzicato playing) running in parallel. Listeners interested in the development of microsonic improvisation should check out this compilation. It presents a solid picture of ongoing experimentations.

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