Ryoji Ikeda

Ryoji Ikeda: Op

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Ryoji Ikeda deserved a prize for "surprise album of the year" in 2002. As a follow-up to the lavishly conceived sound art set Matrix, he released Op. -- as in opus. At the very bottom of the inner sleeve of the digipack is printed in tiny characters this shocking sentence: "No electronic sounds used." This album contains three acoustic works for string ensembles (quartets and nonet). The project started with a commission for "Expériences de Vol 3," part of a series of workshops organized by Art Zoyd and Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles. "Op. 1" (completed in 2001), scored for nine string players (members of the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles ensemble), is the result of this experiment. Ikeda uses long and quiet chords, very delicate and chiselled like his most minimal electronic compositions. The effect is of violins being dragged by the waves on the shore, something very similar to some of Tibor Szemzó's works (particularly The Other Shore). This piece, here presented in four separate movements, had been released on the Sub Rosa triple set Expériences de Vol only two or three months before. "Op. 2" and "Op. 3" were recorded by a Japanese string quartet in May 2002. The second piece follows in the footsteps of the first one, but the third gets more luxurious, even expressionist, which makes it lose some of its appeal -- it evokes more conservative contemporary music. The disc is rounded up with a prototype version of "Op. 1" recorded with three members of Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles. Ikeda's compositions offer little new -- other composers have visited these pastures before (Morton Feldman to name but one) -- but they open up his personal universe.

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