Toshiya Tsunoda - Ridge Of Undulation
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Toshiya Tsunoda
Ridge Of Undulation

Toshiya Tsunoda was actually the first artist to released on the Häpna label over half a decade ago (1999). In the time since then, they've made a name for themselves with immaculately packaged releases by artists experimenting in the field of electro-acoustic music. In addition to great Swedish artists such as Tape and Sagor & Swing, they've featured releases by artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Stephan Mathieu, Loren Connors/David Grubbs, and Pita. Tsunoda has long worked in the art of field recordings (his first release found him placing small microphones inside everything from bottles to drain pipe outdoors and capturing the results).

Ridge Of Undulation is another album of field recordings, but it veers between two extremes, with nearly half of the album being recordings of different seashores and bays while the other half is recordings made by piezoceramic sensors placed on different surfaces which were then vibrated by different frequencies. The idea behind the work is that the two completely different techniques reveal similarities in minutiae. After hearing the release, I have to say that one would be hard-pressed to hear these similarities, and while the piezo vibration sound experiments are definitely unique in conception, they don't exactly make for great listening.

The different sea-side field recordings are the best part of the disc overall, and the best of the batch come back-to-back around the middle of the release. "At Stern, Tokyo Bay_11 Dec 97" is hypnotic and rhythmic, with the parting water splashing (with occasional odd splashes for variation) on either side while the steady hum of the engine motor purrs underneath it all. Then, on "Arrival, Kisarazu Bay_11 Dec 97," the recording captures the arrival of a ship, with faint hums drowned out by rumbling motor sounds, displaced water, and other clanks.

Of the other sonic experiments, the low frequency pieces are much more interesting, with dark humming sheets of sound spilling across one another in unique ways. "An Aluminum Plate With Low Frequencies" is a two-part track of heavy undulating waves of sound, while "Sine Waves Mixed With The Sound Of A Vibrating Surface_2" closes the disc with an eerie deep drone and even lower frequencies gurgling below it. On the other side of things are tracks like "Sine Waves Mixed With The Sound Of A Vibrating Surface_1" and "Metal Pieces With High Frequencies," both of which basically sound like a persistent high-frequency tones that change very little and make you want to shut off all electronic devices in your house. In some ways, the sound experiments remind of the work on Jacob Kirkegaard's Eldfjalll, which are unique for how they were created, but not really so much for how they sound. As with all Häpna releases, the packaging is gorgeous, but unfortunately on this release the sounds within are a bit underwhelming.

rating: 5.510
Aaron Coleman 2006-01-12 21:09:19