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V/A - Tasogare: Live in Tokyo

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Artist: V/A

Album: Tasogare: Live in Tokyo

Label: 12k

Review date: Mar. 25, 2011

Recorded in two different Japanese temples, Tasogare: Live in Tokyo documents performances of textured, spacious electro-acoustic music by six artists/ensembles on the 12k label. They perform in various combinations, their complementary and tuned-in performances coming together in a wide range of sounds, yet also with a seamless flow of mood and ambience. “Tasogare” translates as “twilight,” and indeed, there is a sense of balanced shadow and light to these works.

Minamo begins with an organic drone of shimmering, pulsing metals that fills the open space. Eventually, analog and digital bleeps and blurts replace the rising wash of the cymbals’ white noise.

Gentle vocals, almost whispered over the lush garden sounds and shimmering textures, begin Sawako + Hofti’s section. The night mood unfolds with bell-tones and layer upon layer of sound, eventually thickening and ascending to an arpeggiated majesty before a section of sparse musique concrete fades into pensive, elegant finger-picked guitar, and the return of those intimate vocals.

Moskitoo offers what is perhaps the most musically varied set. It begins as a layered cantata of filtered synth tones and static that hints at spoken language, along with wisps of distant vocals, then becomes a chiming Rhodes-toned dream-pop gamelan, shifting at last into a dark-timbred and deconstructed Zawinul-esque ballad.

Solo Andata changes the energy and mood quite dramatically, with winds, waves and chthonic rumbles riding on massive textures. The effect here is organic also, but with a strong sense of awe and distance in the vistas conjured.

The disc closes with Taylor Deupree’s piece, which is warm, hushed, and softly spacious, bringing a meditative sense of breathing mystery. Its mobile-like construction of billowing tones bumping gently against harder textures is, in places, subtly reminiscent of Eno’s Shutov Assembly pieces.

For all the variety of tools, techniques and approaches in evidence on Tasogare , it is nonetheless a unified — and expansive — musical experience, mostly lovely and calming with just enough alluring dissonance to invite engaged and imaginative listening.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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