Yoshio Machida

Hypernatural #2

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The first release on Tomlab's sub-label Softl Music, Yoshio Machida's Hypernatural #2 offers eight compositions of carefully chosen field recordings and expertly arranged electronics. Miles away from the cheerful bounciness usually found in Tomlab releases, this is serious, forward-thinking contemporary composition using archaic instruments and technology. One thinks of Otomo Yoshihide's Cathode project, where the shô, a traditional Asian mouth organ, met with the raw post-modernism of sine waves. Something similar happens here (although with generally more ear-pleasing results). A mouth organ is heard in "Valley," accompanied by electronics. Something of Yoshihide's transparent music can also be found in "The Polar Lights." But once again Machida's music holds less ambition and achieves more soothing results. Gentle field recordings are constantly kept running at the fringes of perception, providing a unifying background. Timeless instruments like gongs, bells, chimes, and bamboo flute supply delicate, almost Zen melodies. All this is structured and accompanied by lush electronics and a clever use of echo and delay. The album ends with "Daydream," a strange piece featuring a looped melody on steel drum (obviously a field recording) and the cry of a sheep. Machida's pieces don't trigger strong responses, but they make interesting, intelligent avant-garde music for the delicate ear.

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