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CD Feature/ Yoshi Wada: "Earth Horns With Electronic Drone"

img  Tobias

Yoshi Wada carves out a vast and unrelenting piece stretching over seventy-seven minutes that are heavy on event and canvassing organic pan-harmonic development. For Wada, this approach began to ferment in the Berlin of 1974, when he took to building pipehorns, bagpipes, and reed instruments. Together with Liz Phillips, Jim Burton, and Barbara Stewart, Wada ran these instruments through the acoustics of his studio in Syracuse, New York, plumbing the space for variations and transformations of timbre that would heighten its sound spectrum, already rich and heavy, to its maximum density.

Wada thus exploits the incongruous situations to wrestle every ounce of musical drama he can from his conceits. Despite these aims, the sound-events never sound overly labored or strained. Wada displays a visceral imagination in the extension and transformation of simple musical blocks. As a result, sharp contrasts between the materials meditative nature and its massive scale, between its simplicity and its highly involved structure, between its timeless aura and its contemporary hues, are impressively executed.  

Up to a point, Wada's contemporaries were those involved in the American minimalist music of the late sixties and seventies - among others, Phil Niblock, La Monte Young, and Maryanne Amacher. In these three works, though, Wada's familiarity with Japanese Gagaku ceremonial music, as well as other African, Asian and folk forms is brought out quite clearly. This is accomplished particularly through the use of Phillips' electronics, which accent the ceremonial tone while simultaneously adding due weight and motion. Although originally performed in 1974, this is modern sounding music underpinned by curiously old fashioned values.

By Max Schaefer

Homepage: Yoshi Wada
Homepage: EM Records