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Nobukazu Takemura - Assembler

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Artist: Nobukazu Takemura

Album: Assembler

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Apr. 28, 2003

Approaching the Vertex From Both Sides

If the opening rotation of harmonies, spherical encasing of melodies, repetitious designation of convergences – in short, a synthesizer fugue worthy of Terry Riley – is an indication of the remainder of the album, then the remainder is antithesis as the vicious destruction of all that began, from the start, as beauty.

The rough organs of the opening, "Conical Flask," are repeated in and out, interweaving, pondering, moving over the browning grass of the growing summer that makes its way. The way of the summer is the repetition, and it includes its winter: the smooth planes, whites and blues of the frozen white and its stillness, the dampening of snow, they are present as well in the particular dirtiness of the organs. Call this summer-winter an evocation, call it ritual music, call it – solstice.

"Conical Flask" as solstice increases its tempo, intensities, strengths. It increases the speed of its loop, its insistence. Then it fades.

From the fade: neither summer nor winter, dark moon or full. If "Conical Flask" was the transience of sound-movement as the particular of the solstice, that one night and day of length or shortness, intensity high or low, then the following: "USINE," "campana," "Ligne à haute tension," "Kino-ear," "Molla," "Sous terret" – they are the sounds of slugs, movement of molecules. Insect music. Dangerous and unmusical. Random, incomprensible stabs, slirks, slids, slinds, sligts; trickle, trackle, trockles – past all representation, past all topography, sounds that only irrupt time, pocket its fissures. There is no imaginable earthly landscape for these sounds. These sounds are not so much alien as they are intense, interior, microscopic, dense, schizophrenic, miniscule, inwardly drawn – past all innards, past all organs, past all vestiges of me, of my hearing, to atoms, to molecules, to quirks and quarks.

From Terry Riley's repetitions to John Cage's vibrations.


From classicism in the approach of the loop and its radical transformation of "Western" music through African percussion and Eastern meditation – to the dense collage that inhabits no geography, no style. Ahistoricism. Developed at every moment where and when sound occurs or fails to occur as such. Tied inextricably to a technology of production and hearing: the computer, the tapeloop, the machine. From the loop as appropriation and signification of cultural exchange or clash to the refusal. The refusal to admit that the microscopic is also our creation, through technology, and that technology too has a history.

From Koyaanisqatsi to Powaqqatsi. A life out of balance to a life in transformation: and all throughout, technology: a life of war. Total war.

"Campana" is an exception. It returns to solstice only to find the memorable remixed to the mesmerizing. From repetition to a pausing of the temporal, as strings and occluded bells exchange pulses with submerged sinebass. "Kino-ear" is an exception. It distinctly focuses on few sounds. Quietly. Tea, pouring, water, to echo in and out a transmission of chambered feedback. "Sous terret" is an exception. It stretches ascending and painful feedback to heights of steel. Elevator shaft of screams. "Molla" is an exception. The ants invade insect music via Atari. "Ligne à haute tension" is an exception. It plays the taut information of a telephone wire, a modem strung out across vast distances, pulled to its finest membranes. "USINE" is an exception – for it truly is molecular.

By tobias c. van Veen

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