Tujiko Noriko is one of those artists that I was a little behind the critical masses in finally hearing. Although I'd read a good deal about her work, it wasn't until last year sometime that I actually finally heard her From Tokyo To Naiagara album and was completely won over by it. Mixing spry electronics with cut-up vocals and some occasional sing-song melodies, it sounded like Cibo Mato mashed up with Matmos and Björk (in fact, I enjoy the Noriko better than the past couple albums from the former Sugarcube).
Noriko has certainly kept herself busy lately, collaborating with Aoki Takamasa on the Fat Cat-released 40 (which came out only a couple weeks back), while Blurred In Mirror is yet another 'solo' release from Noriko. I only put quotes around the word solo because Noriko has in the past done a majority of the work behind releases both in terms of music and vocals, but this newest effort finds her teaming up with Lawrence English for most of the tracks (he's credited with music on all tracks, with Noriko only adding small touches here and there).
The result of the two working together is something slightly different than one might expect from Noriko given her past work. Seven tracks run just about forty minutes in length, and while the soundscapes are still electronic and glitchy behind her, there's a lot more use of noticible instruments in the mix and a slightly more melancholy feel that runs through the disc. "Niagara Hospital" opens the release and squelched drums slam behind fluttering chimes and spare piano chords while Noriko switches back and forth between English and Japanese with her vocals.
"Switch Of The Sun In You" is the album centerpiece in more ways than one. Arriving halfway through the album, the seven-minute track is stripped-down and haunting as swarming electronic glitchery squirms over dense swaths of reverbed guitar while spacey vocals from Noriko drift through the mix. In other places, the album is alternately poppy (the warm/crunchy juxtaposition of "Tablet For Memory") and completely glitched (the fluttering, chopped-up closer of "Magpies And Mornings"), but the shorter album holds together quite well. With this work, there's no doubt that Noriko is one of the more talented artists doing what she is doing. Although I don't find Blurred In Mirror quite as engaging as some of her other work, it's still darn good.