Once a member of Merzbow, in recent times Kiyoshi Mizutani has shifted the focus of his work towards field recording, capturing the reality of almost forgotten, obscure signs of life. I became aware of his recent output through the fantastic collaborations with Daniel Menche, Garden on Auscultare Research and Song of Jike on Niko, on which the Japanese soundscaper weaves a timestretching mantle of environmental recordings around the shoulders of his American partner. So Scenery of the Border is not only a safe bet – it’s a spiritual initiation. Tanzawa is a Japanese mountain region whose desolate beauty is finely documented by the author’s photos in the exquisite cover artwork (more pictures are available on the enhanced second disc). He applies the same basic principles to his recordings: between November 2002 and February 2004 he took 24 aural snapshots of these territories, translating broken silences, sacred ceremonies, background energies and his own self-imposed solitude into a wholeness we can observe respectfully while remaining in awe of acoustic phenomena that ignorance might define as “normal” but which are essential for the organic life of our being, even when taken out of their original context. Birdsong, for example (one of Mizutani’s best albums, Bird Songs on Ground Fault, consists of little else): chirps and whistles are captured with such mastery you can almost see the morning light through the branches and feel the dampness around you. Other impressive segments feature the rustling noise of feet on fallen leaves, the poignant mumble of passing airplanes (another favourite sound in this writer’s emotional archive), the humming of power plants and substations and the ominous severity of the wind brushing on the microphone. But what really seems to be omnipresent is water: a continuous flow of rain, waterfalls, streams and rivers, a moisture you can almost smell. The path to awareness starts here.


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