Public Eyesore

This is the soundtrack to a dance piece by Japanese choreographer Yoko Murao, and finds Denio (on accordion and voice) flanked by the excellent Eyvind Kang on viola. It all starts with a fascinating drone, an impenetrable dark cloud hovering around apparent tranquillity. The instrumental timbres instantly fuse into one, harmonics coalescing into a static tapestry until we reach Niblock-like pitch contiguities, though I’m also reminded of shades typical of Christoph Heemann and Andrew Chalk’s Mirror. About 11 minutes in, intricate figures start dancing and intersecting as if played by an unknown instrument, soon to be overwhelmed by additional doses of incessant accordion-and-viola repetitions. The first hint of rhythm, which involuntarily rips a page out of Stephen Scott’s book, appears briefly, only to be submerged again in an ocean of bliss. As in the best minimalism, one never knows if what’s heard is real or just a product of the imagination. A sort of bionic hornpipe appears halfway through, introducing a dramatic call-and-response passage of superimposed chanting, before a series of choked seagull-like string shrieks raises the anguish level quite effectively. Elements of Middle Eastern/Arab phrasing are elicited by Kang, yet everything is soon redirected towards motionlessness, as Denio’s vocals take center stage with melodies crossing Native American and Asian influences. Instrumental plucks, raps and noise push the music towards its natural exhaustion, the tension relenting frame by frame as the sonic organism resolves to a composed recollection of all its parts and derivations. A superb piece of work by two fine artists.

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