Koji Asano

Zoo Telepathy

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Aural pain elevated to a high form of art: that is this reviewer's favorite way of describing Koji Asano's music. To get an idea of how Zoo Telepathy sounds, imagine an elementary school violin class -- 30 or 40 kids attempting to play something, anything. At the heart of the three untitled pieces (12 to 19 minutes long) Asano is found playing the violin outdoors. He has limited training on the instrument and intentionally seeks out the screechiest unmusical sounds obtainable by applying horse hair to string. These source recordings have been stacked in multiple layers and computer-processed. The result is a thick magma of ear-grating textures. One immediately links the whiny microtonal drone to The Last Shade of Evening Falls, Autumn Meadow, and The End of August. But however displeasing, the works are fascinating. Despite the fact that the sound source is significantly easier to identify (and more present) than in most of Asano's works, the music remains alien and mysterious in its own way. With time (and the duration of these pieces leave enough of it), the violins morph into dark beasts and swarms of insects, the picture occasionally parasited by gusts of wind assailing the microphone. Are these transformations obtained through computer processing or are they only mind tricks? Honestly, I'm not sure. This is one of Asano's most difficult, unwelcoming opuses.