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Ogurusu Norihide - Humour

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Artist: Ogurusu Norihide

Album: Humour

Label: Carpark

Review date: Jul. 15, 2002

Norihide, in training to be a Shinto priest, brings a naturalistic feel to his experiments, more often than not basing his songs on acoustic instruments like guitar and hand drums. He then brings computer and electronic accents to bear on the recordings. His guitar work is clearly his strength, and the pieces wherein it's the focus are the most successful here. Unfortunately, often Norihide is content to leave things be for too long, with results that are somewhat monotonous.

This CD compiles the two EPs, "study" and "I". It's not clear from the notes, but I suspect that "I" was, as its name might indicate, the first EP—the songs on "study" seem more fully thought-out and developed.

Those seven songs open the CD; none of the tracks here have titles, although the times indicated may actually be the titles—and they don't always seem to accurately indicate the song lengths, so who knows. In any case, the first track is a short intro with nice classical guitar picking fortified with footsteps as rhythmic backing. This is followed by a pretty track with simple guitar plucks haunted by clicks and broken up by slight digital trickery—probably my favorite song on Humour. Over the next few songs, the album slides away from the acoustic guitar underpinnings and more into electronic-based work. Minimal beats and delicate piano are brought in, until the fifth track, which consists of stripped-down electronics, sort of a video-game rhythm with sonar-like pins. It's pleasant enough, but there's really not much to it, and by the end not enough has happened to satisfy.

After a brief outro of strummed guitar, track 8 is the first of three songs from the "I" EP. It's a simple piece based around plucked guitar strings sustained, then plucked again. There's little variation over the length of the song, and not many other sounds are brought in, making it hard to maintain attention over its length. The next song suffers from the same problem, though it's based on hand drums rather than guitar. The drums might be multi-tracked, or merely effected with echo, but the rather unsteady rhythm and static sound does not quite succeed.

The final piece is slow, sad piano (or similar electronics) augmented with what might be effects or synthesizers. It's dark and calm, almost sleepy and melancholic.

While I can see that some listeners will like the simplicity and straightforward presentation of the songs here, I have to admit that I found them needing either more attention to their development or simply to be constrained to shorter lengths. I prefer a 5+ minute song to contain more movement, and I found that too many of the pieces here either faded from my attention or became monotonous. In addition, Norihide's guitar work is so clearly more adept than his electronics or drums that I wished he would make more of it—perhaps he will in the future. That would be something to look forward to.

By Mason Jones

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