By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Sound Track from Film "Mabuta No Ura"
"The task of art...is to bring chaos into order." —Theodor Adorno
For a heavy trip, remind yourself while listening to these two albums that each is a form of order. Really, Chihei Hatakeyama's idyllic soundscapes have little to do with Adorno's obiter dictum on the moral collapse of a commodified society. If nothing else, the 28-year-old Tokyo musician's solo debut is about vibration; computer-manipulated acoustic drones, drawn from guitar and vibraphone, ripple like the horizon wavering over hot asphalt. Emerging sounds meld into new vibrations, which warp their surroundings like giant dying stars. Even the backdrop is a humming fabric of microscopic waves, a paean to John Cage's rejection of silence. None of the seven glimmering, moaning tracks can possibly be in a "key," but they allude to the Japanese "man in harmony with nature" idea, organized the way outdoor noises at night form a perfect constellation of sound. Here, it's man in harmony with machine and a palette of excited air.
Finding the order in Boris's Sound Track is trickier. Some point out that traditional Japanese aesthetics usually avoid the sublime, i.e. the mysterious, frightening, or gigantic. Others point out that the trio is named after a Melvins song and that their first album was one 65-minute epic of pounding distortion and feedback. Each record since then has displayed another take on psych-grunge, doom, or noise, blown up to biblical proportions. But Sound Track treads new ground: The slow, echoing arpeggios that begin the album are gradually relegated to one channel by equally hypnotic feedback in the other, until the track is suddenly ripped open by a howling, pummeling jam. That's just the first five minutes.
Essence Music released the CD in a miniature gatefold LP sleeve with a series of printed cards, each one an abstruse narrative surrounded by moody, cobalt-stained photos. And that's not even the limited edition, which resembles a Fluxus heroin kit. Boris's Atsuo Mizuno explains the crazy packaging: "This is a soundtrack for images that appear on the mabuta no ura ("backside of the eyelids") of the listeners, by reading the stories contained on the album and listening to the music...The dewdrops are spun into thread and the thread forms a whole story." You can't make movies like this without blowing some fuses in the projection room.