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CD Feature/ Toshiya Tsunoda & Civyiu Kkliu

img  Tobias

Most people have credited Bremsstrahlung Records for their aesthetics of silence and the way in which they, in unison with a small but dedicated community of artists, labels, distributors and press, have turned “lower case” from being a mere paper-term into a veritable genre as well as a scene filled with ideas, philosophies and unique and recognisable sounds. What has been strangely ommited from the equation has been the other important parameter in their universe, namely the return of subjectivity to experimental music. This release featuring two of Japan’s most prominent players from the field of quietude and field recordings is a perfect example of how these two aspects go together in defining something unique and (possibly) unprecedented.

Of course, that may not be the first thing you notice when you start listening. Like other Bremsstrahlung releases, the music is again packaged inside an aluminum box with two index cards providing the background information to the music. What would usually be nothing more than a simple trick to suggest “depth” makes perfect sense here: No imagery is to disturb the aural sensation and the visual presentation retreats into a place which still depicts the care and love that has gone into it, while offering the highest degree of personal input by the recipient. The fact that the material collected here could easily have been pressed on a single disc (it spans a mere 40 minutes and represents two Mini-CDs worth of music) also fits this approach, as it both declares each composer a cosmos in his own right, as well as stimulating a non-material look at things: An album is much more than just a collection of pieces, more than the medium which holds it. On top of all this, there is a much simpler explanation: It is so much more satisfying to totally immerse oneself into these intricate soundscapes without having to care for the “Stop” button when one section ends and the other begins. Which is not without importance here, as Tsunoda and Kkliu may share certain similarities in their biographies and work, but are quite idiosyncratic in their outset. Tsunoda, on the one hand, is one of the few field recording artists who openly debates about the difference between the personal and scientific view of his trade. He agrees that the recordings of places can evoke vivid images on the part of the person listening to them. However, he argues, this is not the place itself, but rather a mental image of the listener. We might add to that: Of course there is no recorded landscape either. As long  we don’t have microphones which are capable of 0representing the capacities of the human ear for 100%, each taping can only be an approximation. All of the compositions captured on Tsunoda’s disc are well aware of that. His “Fragments for Stereophony” are studies in observation: Metallic cracklings, gurgling and ringing frequencies, subliminal rustlings and delicate rumblings make for a stream of noises and associations into which the listener dives for a certain period without being provided with a clear definition of where they came from and where they are flowing to. As the artists says: “Distance and time appear from the arbitray point, which is placed in continous fragments”. And it is true: The subjective sensation of time stretches to extremes, as these only four minute short pieces, or the nine-minute long “Recorded Landscape: Pier”, a resting eternal bass vibration, unfold. The same can be said about the single-track contribution by Civyiu Kkliu, entitled “1111111”, which may not exactly be the most emotive title, but encapsulates entire worlds of meanings and interpretations. Like Tsunoda, he too agrees that our world is split into two possible paradigms: The material world, a sort of social expanse of our environment and the world of the inner ideas, which is generated by the reworking of the outside information by our neural system. This implies that the usual sets of development do not necessarily need to apply at all times, as a single second can fold out into infinity: “1111111” consists of a pulsating sine wave, deep bass wobblings and tender hissing, which appear to remain static over the entire duration. Whether or not this is a fact or just an illusion created by our inability to perceive certain phenomena as what they really are, doesn’t matter, as the piece grows and grows as the clock ticks away, enveloping the listener in a warm cloud he does not want to get out of.

Kkliu and Tsuonda certainly ask questions about what one expects from music, what constitutes it and how to define its parameters and its borders (can compositions continue beyond their physical duration?). Mostly, however, they are meant to be simply enjoyed and to be used as stimulating experiences from which to draw intuitive conclusions. That, too, is an aspect which one ought to stress more in relation with Bremsstrahlung: Their releases have a very sensous component.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Bremsstrahlung Records

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