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Cosmos is the duo of Sachiko M, known for her pioneering work on the empty sampler, and Ami Yoshida, a young vocalist of extraordinary abilities. Yoshida does for singing what Bhob Rainey does for the saxophone, or Axel Dörner for the trumpet, "reducing" her voice to whispers, squeaks, buzzes, and breaths. Sachiko, who also makes frequent use of a contact microphone as sound source, stays relentlessly focused on abstract sound here, resulting in Tears, an album of icy rigor and great, surprisingly sensual, beauty. It remains very difficult to hear vocalizations of any sort without ascribing emotional qualities to them, no matter how removed from standard forms they may be. Thus, Yoshida's strangled moans tend to take on a plaintive aspect, describing a keening dance around the electronic squiggles and blips offered up by her partner. Drama of a noh-sort is also provided by Sachiko when, as has increasingly been her wont since her participation in the group Filament, she sustains a single sine tone for minutes on end, creating huge, though subtle, tension. The disc consists of three tracks ranging from 12 to over 24 minutes and each is, to a degree, an exercise in pared down aesthetics, using a tonal palette that is at first blush severe, but more than pays off with close listening. It's demanding music, leaving the listener few convenient, easy-to-grasp handholds, but for those willing to make the investment (or for those already intrigued by the Japanese onkyo scene), the payoffs are enormous. Highly recommended

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick