CD Reviews

Seijiro Murayama, Kazushige Kinoshita – 59:01.68

May 14, 2013


Will we ever run out interesting conceptual ideas for making CDs? The music on Kazushige Kinshita and Seiji Murayama’s duo disc on the Ftarri label appeared a good few months ago now, but I have only recently found the time to spend with it. The release is credited as a duo, with the compositions written by Murayama, but there is a strong argument, having read the online notes that accompany the release for it being a trio release also involving the sound engineer Makoto Oshiro. The translated notes on the composition are not entirely clear, but from what I can tell the two musicians improvised freely inside precise time frames, with large silences left in places. A microphone was also placed outside during the recording, which is not heard for most of the time, but in certain places the sound we hear cuts from the indoor recording of the musicians and instead we hear the twittering of birds, yapping dogs and the light rush of distant traffic. There are also long digital silences. It would seem that Oshiro has cut the sound of the improvisations in places, so we hear nothing at all, while the music continues without us getting to hear it. What isn’t clear is how the various forms of silence here were dictated. Did Murayama compose everything? pointing out where to switch to digital nothingness? or were post-recording decisions also made by the sound engineer? However the whole thing came about, its a curious construction.

Murayama plays a single snare drum in his familiar sparse, rigidly brittle manner. He steers mostly away from any kind of rhythm here, working primarily with sudden cracks and scrapes. Kinoshita plays violin, mostly in an atonal, crunching and scraping manner, but with a similar feel to Murayama’s pointillistic playing, never really settling on one sound for more than a second of so, and with large white spaces left between each of them. The two play together very well, their approaches merging very nicely together to the point if it becoming hard to separate the two, but their playing here is delightfully undermined by the way the music is broken up so often. Normally when jump-cuts and the sudden post-production juxtaposition of sound and silence are used as compositional tools we are presented with music that leaps suddenly around, with vastly differing elements careering off of one another and the silences arriving like sudden chasms int he music. Here however, while we do find the music suddenly halt, sometimes these silences are merely the result of the musicians stopping playing as dictated by the score. Sometimes then we are hit by the grey wall of traffic, and sometimes there is nothing at all to be heard and as listeners we are left feeling disconnected and uncomfortable. It never feels like a stream of rapid cuts however. Rather, the different elements here all seem to flow very nicely, and the improvised playing actually feels so much better for having been filleted out into small chunks.

The end result is a curious affair. While at some level the music feels organic and well balanced, ¬†we are repeatedly made aware of the post-production knife-work at play here. Listening for the first time, without the aid of the notes about the music I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Part of me felt like the music was poorly edited, but another part kept noticing, sometimes interestingly late that the outside recordings had suddenly replaced the sterile atmosphere of the indoors. As a result, while on one, fundamental level this album is a very nice listen, full of great little sounds and strong playing, it is also a disconcerting and disorienting experience to listen carefully. the closer you get to the music, the more out of sync it all feels. This was obviously the intention of those involved in its creation, and the end result is a satisfying challenge to the listener.

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