Otomo Yoshihide: Cathode

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Cathode is a collection of four compositions by Otomo Yoshihide. They draw from the avant-garde samplist's late-'90s minimalist approach exposed in projects such as I.S.O. and Filament, but are much richer. "Modulation #1" and "Modulation #2" play on modulating difference tones produced by sampled sine waves and shô, a traditional Japanese mouth organ. Both pieces are better experienced on good speakers, so that the listener can change position in order to modify the resulting modulation. Number one is as basic as it gets (and thus similar to Ryoji Ikeda's Matrix album), and people having physical difficulties with sine waves will not like it. Number two is less single-minded and irritating. It includes sparse acoustic guitar by Imahori Tsuneo in a style similar to Taku Sugimoto and more varied electronics from Sachiko M. The two "Cathode" pieces are more like electroacoustic works. For "Cathode #1," Yoshihide prepared a graphic score and recorded ten musicians performing it separately. He later assembled the piece using basic musique concrète techniques from the 1950s: speed variation, tape direction, splicing, and overdubbing. The resulting work reveals a very mature composer. For "Cathode #2," he sampled eight musicians without any preconceived plan, and created a very ambient collage through a technique inspired by Bob Ostertag's groundbreaking album Say No More. For all the avant-garde lovers who were wondering where the Japanese genius was heading lately, Cathode became the proof that the spiraling reduction of his music was not leading to a dead-end, but on the contrary to a rebirth of his writing abilities.

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