Ikue Mori

Labyrinth

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The latest effort from drum machine percussionist and computer wiz Ikue Mori is her most realized date since Painted Desert, though she employs no side musicians. This is a work that ranges from the near ambient to the painfully extreme over 11 compositions. The set opens with the computer and tape manipulated "Gates of Basilisk," where short phrases are looped backwards to create an almost pastoral -- if it weren't filled with so much dread -- soundscape. Next, on "Qeztalquoatl," drum machines are looped through other computer generated percussive phrases to gate them, stretch the time/space continuum through them, and create not a semblance of rhythm, but a new territory for rhythm to occupy both linguistically and physically. On the title track, Mori uses the computer to treat the textures and surfaces of her percussive expressions, giving them the appearance of temple bells, gamelans, African gongs, and even strings. The most beautiful tune here is "Peony Lantern," which is comprised of nothing but small, mostly unidentifiable fragments of sound and/or music. They shimmer in and out of a spare yet focused mix, creating a tapestry of elegant noise. Mori has come a long way from her days with DNA in the 1970s, but Labyrinth is more than just development, it's a work of sublime artistic expression from an accomplished, nearly unrivaled musical artist.

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