The Guardian (UK):
Ryoji Ikeda's Op. (Touch) is another current album with a hint of Bryars. The composer is best known as a hip and fearsomely reductionist electronic sound-maker/producer, with albums such as +/- and Matrix to his credit, and a compilation album dedicated to John Cage. For his tour "performance" in 2000, the stage was empty while a DAT played at the mixing desk. Yet for Op. (short for opus) the small print read: "No electronic sounds used." There are two string quartets, Op. 2 and Op. 3, plus two versions of Op. 1 (for nine strings): a performance by Musiques Nouvelles Ensemble and a multitracked "prototype version".
At first this sounds truly minimal: slow-moving layers of overlapping sound with hardly any pulse. It harks back to experimental pioneers such as Morton Feldman; it has the austerity of an electronic piece made from tone generators. Yet musicians, however closely they follow the score, don't behave quite like tone generators. Within the ultra-restrained ensemble playing, you can hear vestiges of personality, of performance and expression, and you experience Ikeda's music entering a new dimension. [John L. Walters]
Ryoji Ikeda is a well-known figure in the world of experimental music. His 2000 release on the Touch label, Matrix, garnered near universal critical acclaim, due largely to the work's amazing ability to harness the sound installation experience (the experience of listening to a work of art in a controlled environment) onto a CD that can be played anywhere. The first disk of Matrix consisted of ten five-minute long tones, each one slightly different from the next. What made the work interesting was the changes in sound effected by the listener’s proximity to the sound source. Slight movements in relation to the speakers subtly transformed the sounds that you heard. It's a high concept idea that usually works only within the confines of an art gallery, where all the speakers can be set up correctly and the listener's movements can be controlled.With op., Ikeda does something entirely unexpected: he ditches the electronic instruments in favor of violins, violas, cellos, and a double bass. Working with musicians in Belgium and Japan, Ikeda constructs four distinct works for classical instruments. However, this is not classical music by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this work is as electronic in feel as Matrix. The aesthetic constants between the two works are time and tone. The ten tracks on Matrix's first disk each consisted of a single, five-minute long tone; on op., though the pieces vary in length, they are made up primarily of extended tones. Granted, each tone changes in pitch and occasionally overlaps another tone. But there is little in the way of development, harmony, or any of the other things we normally associate with traditional or classical musical structure.So it sounds boring, right? At first listen, it does. It sounds like a bunch of piercing, overworked, monotonous string wails that go on and on. But this is one of those works that needs to be listened to a second, third, or fourth time before it can be fully appreciated. Yes, there's a lot of uniformity here. However, uniformity is the point. This work follows in the footsteps of works by John Cage, Morton Feldman, and others, artists who sought to redefine the notion of music and musical composition. A single note, if played by different people at different times in different places, must sound different each time, even if those differences are so minor that only repeated listenings will reveal them. Cage, Feldman, and others wanted to encourage audiences to pay attention to those small differences, so they created musical works that included silence and repetition, for these things force listeners to forget about traditional musical concepts like harmony and structure and focus instead on the miniscule variations in a given piece. This is what Ikeda has done here: created a work that places the emphasis on a careful examination of the infinite differences between tones. This is, as I said earlier, basically the same thing Ikeda's Matrix accomplished, only here Ikeda extends this idea beyond the realm of electronic sounds into more traditional avenues of musical expression. To listen to this album is, at the very least, to forever redefine your idea of string quartets.Besides, if you listen to every track here (though there are only four pieces, the work is split into ten different tracks, just like Matrix), you'll realize that there's a lot more going on than mere repetition. The last five tracks, in particular, are loaded with unusual variations on the major theme. There's a plucked bass that underlines some rather high-piercing string sounds on track nine, and the beginning of track six gives us a few, brief moments of violin sounds that actually sound like traditional violin sounds (you know, with varying pitches and stuff like that). These moments are fleeting, but they are special and, in their own way, very beautiful. There is, in short, a lot to hear here, if you're willing to open yourself up to the experience that Ikeda offers. [Michael Heumann]
Ryoji Ikeda's previous albums for Touch, the empty white space and subtle geometric
pattern on the cover suggest precisely conceived electronic music - cleanly
cut-up and perfectly pitched. On +/- and O°C, his pure sine-wave tones,
sliced samples, and electronic pops mix with amplifier hums, pulsing bass, and
even a human heartbeat to create gorgeous mixtures of cool and warm, digital
and analog. Ikeda whittles each of these sources down and then lets the disparate
elements run together, creating rhythms that resemble the operating room more
than the dance floor.
Op., however, is similar in cover design alone. The inside sleeve reads, "No electronic sounds used." Op. features four compositions for four groupings: nine strings, two quartets, and a trio - no sampling, clipping, or shaping allowed. In "Op.1", Ikeda combines elongated dissonant notes that never resolve into comfortable harmony. Sometimes these groupings build a note at a time and then dissipate, other times the players begin at the same time and fall off individually. Frequently each combination is surrounded by silence, disconnected from the rest of the composition. The third part of "Op.1" (tracks three and nine) adds a rhythmic cello pluck that brings structure to the pitches that otherwise follow no specific speed.
"Op.1" offers dissonance at its most austere. "Op.2" and "Op.3" include parts that assume a more lyrical role than the opener. Instead of strictly playing the note combinations and then pausing, the strings play longer lines that underscore the resulting discord, even adding small doses of cello vibrato in "Op.3". These pieces move more fluidly with fewer outright silences between note groupings.
These compositions recall Morton Feldman's pieces in the 1950s, when he sought to detach sounds from rote pitch relationships that had existed for generations of classical composition. He and his New York contemporaries wanted to release notes from "meaning" and make each sound have its own weight. Toward this end, Feldman used graphical notation that simply prescribed pitch as High, Middle, and Low, and players decided where these ranges lay and what notes to choose. He also used silence to surround his notes so they existed unimpeded by one another.
Ikeda's compositions have a similar effect. The note groupings range from extreme dissonance to the occasional combination that deceivingly resembles a conventional chord. Because these notes "don't go together," their combination calls attention to each note individually. They aren't part of a whole in the conventional sense of a harmony, so they stick out even though played simultaneously. These sorts of spacious productions arise in the idiosyncratic rhythms and pure tones of Ikeda's electronic records. His elements don't surrender to the greater whole; they simply coexist. In this sense, while Ryoji's unplugging produces a different collection of sounds, the detail and precision of his sonic world continues in these tensely elegant compositions.
We're used to hearing clinical clicks from Japanese electronic composer Ryoji Ikeda -- so what's this then? 21st century classical, all acoustic stringed instruments, no electronics at all?? Yes, and it's great. With help from Belgian chamber-prog group Art Zoyd, Ikeda has crafted a gorgeous soundtrack-like suite of droning string bliss, that's far from the chopped-up aesthetic of his earlier use of orchestral elements in the electronic realm. Two years ago, Ikeda released "Matrix" -- an amazing double cd split between pure sinewave aggrevation on one disc and smooth, post-techno click 'n' grooves on the other. While that album was the conclusion of a trilogy of electronic works that also included "0 Degrees Celsius" and "+/-," it remains unclear if the arrival of "op." also marks a disavowal of electronics altogether (as good as this is, we hope not). While the German avant-garde ensemble Zeitkratzer have done very well for themselves in translating electronoise works by John Duncan and Merzbow into atonal orchestrations for classical instruments, Ikeda's "classical" debut bares little resemblance to anything he's done in the past. No cyclical pulses. No clinical precision. No irritants to speak of. Instead, Ikeda's compositions for strings (one piece for 9 strings and the rest for quartet) gracefully glide in and out of complex timbres, with plenty of breathing room in between all of the harmonic tones. Indeed, the closest resemblance to Ikeda's past work is how initial attack of bows on strings can sound uncannily like the electronically-generated tones on the sinewave half of "Matrix"... Soon they reveal themselves for the acoustic orchestra instruments they are, Ikeda apparently using them to tap into the emotions of sadness and majesty, which rock musicians also have appropriated from romantic composers. Yet, with its stoic simplicity and stately pacing, "op." also mirrors the fascination that fellow minimalist Bernhard Gunter holds for Morton Feldman and Luigi Nono, although Gunter's approach has remained within the scope of sampling and hasn't yet arrived at full blown orchestrations. As beautiful and compelling as Ikeda's "op." is, Ikeda has to ask himself how he can build a language that not only reflects back upon successes of his previous electronic works but also understand the peculiarities intrinsic to this form of composition. He's already issued vague statements about his electronic works building "invisible patterns filling the listening space." Is this a strong enough bridge between Ikeda's electronic masterpieces and the possible future for other classical compositions? Only time will tell...
VITAL (The Netherlands):
With the release of 'Matrix', the work of Ryoji Ikeda reached a culmination point, the best refinement of his previous works, spread over two discs of sound. One with his rhythmical material and one with sound fields. As the conclusion of '+-' and '0 Degrees' a logical point, but also one that asked the question: what's next for Ikeda? To come up with another disc of his sinewave material, seemed just not right. Two years after 'Matrix' he comes back with 'Op'. You could easily think that 'Op' is short for 'Optical' or maybe has a relation with 'Op Art' (in reference to his previous cover art), but op is short for 'opus' latin word for 'work'. Serious composers (mainly nineteenth century) used to make their own catalogue, giving each new work a new opus number. Big jolly fun for musical historians, because composers left out works that felt were not good enough or youth works. The four works on this CD are all works for strings. 'No electronic sounds used' the cover says. It has 'op 1', 'op 2' and 'op 3' and a prototype of 'op 1'. Does this mean that Ikeda now is a serious composer and that his previous works are youth works to be forgotten? We don't know. The music on this CD is a distinct break from his past electronic music. That was cold and chilly, highly rhythmical and in its frequency use quite extreme. The three pieces for strings on this CD are romantic, stretched, slightly atonal and are to be found in the tradition of Feldman and Scelsi. Ever since I got this CD a week, I played it nearly every day, and every time I hear it, I find it more and more difficult to say anything about it. There is a place in my heart for this kind of music, certainly when it comes from someone for whom I have much respect, but it seems so hard to think that this is the same Ikeda as the one that did '+-' or 'Time & Space'. It's so radically different that it's scary, maybe schizophrenic. Every time I play this, I start to like it more and more and the less I understand about it. Plus it raises so many more questions, like what's next? Will the format of string quartets be renewed, just like Ikeda renewed electronic music, or will there more compositions like this, but then for different instruments - or maybe a symphony? Time will tell of course, but for now this has to be cherished. [FdW]
Depois de uma carreira discreta localizada na sua terra natal, Ryoji Ikeda espantou o mundo que o quis ouvir com um testemunho que dificilmente evitará o esquecimento: «Plus/Minus», ou simplesmente «+/-», reabriu-nos a mente para os conceitos supremos do minimalismo enquanto declaração estética; abriu-nos a electrónica experimental novamente ao rítmo e, simultaneamente, aos extremos. Paradoxalmente, no pico de industrialização da música de computador Ikeda torna a electrónica limpa, elegante, sinousa, plena de contrastes, relembrando os ínfimos detalhes dos zeros e dos uns e de toda a carga simbólica do digital. Estávamos em 1996, e de repente vislumbrámos hipnotizados os tijolos ordenados da música electrónica. Alguns álbuns depois, em 2002, Ikeda surpreende-nos um vez mais com um disco em que nenhum som electrónico foi utlizado na sua concepção. «Op.» é um arriscado e porventura o mais terminal processo criativo da carreira do músico japonês: a sua música é elevada a um outro patamar finalizador, erguendo-se por entre arranjos de cordas (para trio, quarteto e noneto clássico) que mimetizam o seu mundo como se um tradutor perfeito existisse. Os arranjos determinam a solelitude de «Op.», revestindo o que antes foi o cirúrgico e matemático som das frequências pelo doce e percutido som das cordas. Depois de sete anos de marcada importância conceptual e prática, eis de novo o pequeno japonês a subir mais alto que todos.
Translated by Heitor Alvelos:
Following a discreet career in his native land, Ryoji Ikeda amazed the world that wanted to hear him with a testimony that will hardly avoid oblivion [sic in portuguese]: "Plus/Minus", or simply "+/-", re-opened our mind to the supreme concepts of minimalism as aesthetic statement; for us, it opened experimental electronica to rhythm and to the extremes. Paradoxically, at the peak of industrialisation of computer music, Ikeda turns electronics clean, elegant, sinuous, full of contrasts, remembering the tiny details of zeros and ones and of the whole symbolic weight of the digital. We were in 1996, and suddenly, hypnotised, we envisioned the ordered bricks of electronic music. A few releases later, in 2002, Ikeda surprises us once more with a cd containing no electronic sounds. "Op." is a risky, and probably the most extreme, creative process of the Japanese musician's career: his music is elevated to a further, final stage, rising amongst string arrangements (for trio, quartet and classical nonet) which mimic his world as if a perfect translator ever existed. The arragmenets define "Op."'s uniqueness, dressing the prior surgical and mathematical sound of frequencies with the sweet, percussive sound of strings. After seven years of evident practical and conceptual importance, here he is again, rising above all others.
Ryoji Ikeda's musical paths have always subscribed to a digital orthodoxy. This is why one of the effects this latest CD of his might produce is one of surprise. "Op." is made up of four pieces for string instruments, with no electronic intervention added whatsoever. The composition work for this CD was begun in 2000, the pieces themselves were recorded throughout the last few years. But if, one on hand, "Op." is indeed totally acoustic, it is also true that the approach here is similar to some areas of electronic music. There are ends that stand above the means: it won't be the use of real isntruments that will betray Ikeda's sound coherence. This will be, in theory, a logical sequence of his aural path. In "Op.", the progression is produced in minimalistic circles of sensitive filtering. The instruments return to their tactile and aural essence, they are performed in an oblivion of the invention of melody. Each sound is sustained on the eve of its materialisation, it feeds on itself in autistic trajectories. There is the occasional dramatic intervention, as a gesture of captivation - a sentimental trap palpably recognisable. This is, above all, a rational gesture, a stoic act of 'baring-it-all'. It remains to be seen whether "Op." holds up to the classical universe it is trying to belong to. Simplicity may hide poverty, minimalism may hide faults, the change of register may reveal itself as pure pretention. Yet, academic issues aside, it should be said that "Op." is an object of absolutely captivating inspiration. (8/10) [Sergio Gomes da Costa - Translated by Heitor Alvelos]
After winning the Golden Nica award for Digital Music for his 2001 Matrix album, one had to wonder where was left to go for Ryoji Ikeda. His patented clinical assemblage of clicks, cuts, glitches and plunderphonics reached its zenith on that album, taking experimentalism and electronics to a whole new level. It came, then, with a mixture of sense and surprise to find that the liner notes to Op., his sixth solo album, come with the caveat, No electronic sounds used. Instead, we find on Op. a collection of three suites for strings composed by Ikeda.
The opening note of Op. 1 [for 9 strings] would almost make you think you had put on the wrong CD, as it more resembles amplifier feedback than traditional violin timbres, but such is the manifesto for these pieces: to push the boundaries of acoustic instruments and subvert them to realm of electronics. It is not a new concept, having been employed by John Cale and his Dream Syndicate back in the 1960s. However, what separates Ikedas work from these previous acoustic dronings is, somewhat paradoxically, the technology. Modern recording and production equipment has allowed him to capture the very heart of each sound and subtly tweak it with his usual pinpoint precision.
The pieces on offer here stay fairly rigidly within the realm of neo-classical drones; swelling and subsiding with differing combinations of timbres and harmonics, with the occasional injection of some rhythm from the robotic plucking of a double bass, specifically on the third movement of Op. 1 [for 9 strings]. They are never the liveliest of compositions; the piercing violins and sonorous cellos creating agitated moods of either melancholy or trepidation - a far cry from Ikedas previous manic and cheeky digital contortions.
There is, however, a notable change on the last four tracks, which comprise the prototype version of Op. 1. This time using only three strings, Ikeda conducts them towards uplifting, major-chord drones, with almost tiny hints of melody creeping in at times. In a way, this is both the best and worst piece of the album, as it is pleasing and quite soothing to listen to, yet represents a move toward the traditional on Ikedas part. This makes sense, as it is an embryonic work and shows signs of the direction he was to take on the final version of the piece; but also since, as an artist, he should have an understanding of the conventions he is breaking a Zen-like ethos that lends a ritualistic element to the whole piece.
Op. is a strange work it both breaks boundaries and builds them up again. Ikedas defiling of the classical method is as daring a move as any glitch or click of his previous work, but the resort to acoustic instruments somehow detracts from the importance of albums like Matrix or 0°C, stressing an inferiority of digital sound. Nevertheless, it stands as a remarkable monument to Ikedas abilities and maturation as an artist, as well as offering a highly unique and often disquieting listening experience. [Gavin Lees]
The master of sine tone composition surprises with a gorgeous suite of sweet shimmering string compositions, proving he can breathe freely beyond technology whilst never abandoning his love of the minimal. There are two compositions, one for nine strings and the second for four, miniatures of Morton Feldman's long-drawn-out stases. [Graeme Rowland]
Other Music (USA):
On his fifth full-length release, Ryoji Ikeda forgoes electronic music altogether, instead creating an album of spectral compositions for strings. While Ikeda's signature experiments with standing waves and stereo field disturbance are largely absent, his concerns with psychoacoustic space remain. This time, however, Ikeda uses sweeping violin glissandi, instead of sinewaves, to pierce the listener's ear. The distiction between where notes begin and end is largely indescernable on "op." Just as Japanese calligraphers approach the brushstroke as breathing onto paper, Ikeda "breathes" his sounds into being. This results in a distinctly more "organic" feeling than his earlier works, which have been described as forensic and clinical. For many listeners, Ikeda's tonal clouds will recall the works of Xenakis, Ligeti, Part and especially Morton Feldman. Ikeda is not alone, as contemporaries Bernhard Gunter, Richard Chartier, and Steve Roden have all acknowledged their dept to Feldman's crepuscular landscapes. On "op.," however, the discrete arrangements of harmonics and subtle pulses are more of a reference than a direct homage. Ikeda layers and subtracts these elements to create a highly pensive atmosphere where dissonance is never resolved; it is only pulled back to reveal further dissonance. The results leave the listener with a feeling of suspense and suspension, evoking the experience of flying in an airplane, landing through heavy fog, and slowly seeing a landscape revealed. [DHi]
Ryoji Ikeda deserved a prize for surprise album of the year in 2002. Asa follow-up to the lavishly conceived sound art set Matrix, he released Op. - as in opus. At the very bottom of the inner sleeve of the digipack is printed in tiny characters this shocking sentence: No electronic sounds used. This album contains three acoustic works for string ensembles (quartets and nonet). The project started with a commission for Expériences de Vol #3, part of a series of workshops organized by Art Zoyd and Musiques Nouvelles. Op. 1 (completed in 2001), scored for nine string players (members of the Musiques Nouvelles ensemble), is the resultof this experiment. Ikeda uses long and quiet chords, very delicate and chiselled like his most minimal electronic compositions. The effect is of violins being dragged by the waves on the shore, something very similar to some of Tibor Szemzos works (particularly The Other Shore). This piece, here presented in four separate movements, had been released on the Sub Rosa triple set Expériences de Vol only two or three months before. Op. 2 and Op. 3 were recorded by a Japanese string quartet in May 2002. The second piece follows the footsteps of the first one, but the third gets more luxurious, even expressionist, which makes it loose some of its appeal - it evokes more conservative contemporary music. The disc is rounded up with a prototype version of Op. 1 recorded with three members of Musiques Nouvelles. Ikedas compositions offer little new - other composers have visited these pastures before (Morton Feldman to name but one), but they open up his personal universe. [François Couture]
Whether or not Ryoji Ikeda has an academic degree in classical composition is irrelevant, the man has proven that he has an ear for sound and how to develop it nicely, using the sources he has to their fullest. This, to me, is quite the opposite of an irritating trend of modern experimental academia in the sense that numerous composers and musicians will insist that their authority be respected with a large amount of literature to digest before the first notes are even heard. (Just think of all the people commissioned to record bridges only to filter the sounds through whatever effects units they own.) Even with this album, which is a grand departure from Ikeda's style, the packaging remains simple with only enough text necessary. In the past, Ikeda's music has been composed entirely of wave tones, clicks, and other sounds that simply do not occur in nature. This time, however, there are absolutely no electronic sounds used. "Op. 1" is the first part, and is composed for 9 strings in four movements. The piece isn't entirely unlike his electronic music, introduced with a piercing pitch, but this time it's provided by a solo violin high on the fingerboard. The individual note is played and another follows, the cycle becomes rhytmically repeated while the notes change, accompanied by another violin in abrasive minor intervals. Soon, the violins are joined with the lower tones of viola, cello and the drone of a double bass. Also, in a similar way to his electronic recordings, the distinguishing endpoints of various movements are practically inaudible, only observable by watching the CD player click through index points. "Op. 2," and "Op. 3" follow, each reduced to only a string quartet. The rhtyhm from "Op. 1" is left behind but the tone exploitation remains. Once again, on "Op. 2," never at one point do individual players move from note to note without pausing. This time, however, the different instruments play at staggered times, like watching raindrops fall to the ground in slow motion, one by one. "Op. 3" is probably the most developed piece, despite it being about half the length of the others. Here, each instrument takes turns making their attempts at simple and short, four-note melodic phrases. High-pitched piercing drones are reintroduced which contrast nicely to low melodic phrases played by the cello. The disc ends with a prototype of "Op. 1," played only by a three-piece of violin, viola and cello. The piercing notes and rhythmic synergy is remeniscent of the more fully figured version first appearing on the disc and the composition is almost entirely identical, but this time I sense a bit of post-production here with only small hints of effects added on afterwards. While this one is noted as the prototype, it seems more emotional, more disturbing and unsettling yet more connected. Perhaps it's Ikeda's smug way of proving that while he can do it with a bigger ensemble, he's still quite capable of getting more out of less. [Jon Whitney]
Recently, the mouse problem at my apartment has gotten out of control. They run up the walls and crawl into my bird's cage to eat seeds, nibble through unopened loaves of Orowheat, and most heinous of all, they ate out the crotch of my roommate's old panties. Forgoing all the glue traps and classic spring-loaded devices, we opted instead for ultrasonic devices to drive out the rodents, and as you shuffle into the kitchen now for that late-night nibbling, you can hear its subsonic pulsing through your head: deet-deet-deet-deet.
So when the newest Ryoji Ikeda CD came in the mail, I figured it'd free one more room of the house from these pests, as his past oeuvre laid similar sonic matrices throughout the acoustic spaces of the room, sometimes clearing it, other times hypnotizing it. +/- was an instant classic of edge-of-perception phenomena, frequencies being felt more than heard as their components vacillated in and out of the range of the human ear, destabilizing the crystals within and altering their audible nature as the listener's position changed in relation to the stereo. Matrix was scalpel-sharp sine waves and similarly minded clinical clicks on two separate CDs. But hopes for hole-free laundry sunk considerably when I read the fine print of this release, which states: "No electronic sounds used." I could imagine the mizzle of little teeth through the walls as the CD started to spin, and although the opening seconds could fool you, this is not only a completely live instrumental affair, but it's all composed for strings, executed by the Musiques Nouvelles Ensemble, as well as a Japanese string quartet at the New National Theatre in Tokyo.
"Op.1", segmented into four movements, is scored for nonet, although its austerity would never reveal so many players without the acknowledgements. Strings resound in single file, before being bowed into different laminal contexts with a sympathetic relation to the other entities. Ikeda's compositional attention is as an alembic, distilling all players into the true physical sound of their rosined bows on the strings, and the auras emitted from each string-- the attack, sustain, and decay works individually and then in combination. The first two movements are stunning, as the violins, violas, and cellos swell with a deliberate asceticism, making achingly slow passes over their strings, as disembodied as headlights in the absolute darkness of highway night driving, glowing singularly yet creating a chain of luminous entities in ensemble. This is not unlike the Doppler effect of +/-, whose observed nature was dependent on subjective factors such as speaker setup or whether the disc was heard on headphones and at what volume. That phenomenon is relegated to the music itself now, not in how it transmits to the listener's ear.
By the third movement, the violins and violas are passing like ships in the night, the double bass thudding against their hulls as if to mark their dimensional presence. The spatial destabilization is similar to the late works of Morton Feldman, not in terms of scale or chromatic problem solving, but in its subtle outlining of the void in which it all hovers, like Sonar describing that which encases it. Isolated, each instrument is made to resonate or fluctuate much like an electronic tone in the studio, and it's in merger that the actual physical nature of the sound becomes more readily apparent.
What serves as the greatest hurdle of Op. is a problem many contemporary composers (especially those using technology) face when working with more classical instruments that carry hundreds of years worth of historical weight within their sounds: How do you recontextualize these instruments to where they express something in a new manner? Or in Ikeda's case, where his previous electronic compositions drew so much attention to sound's physical occupation of the air and how it reacts to the placement of the ear, what is he going to express, emotionally, melodically, or structurally, with these scored string ensembles, be they quartets or trios? With the arrival and passing of two versions of "Op.2", apparently not too much, I'm afraid, aside from how interesting these instruments sound as they slide past each other over time.
Sections of Op. remain fascinating, distilled into a new acoustic context that still reveals the audio essence Ikeda has made his own over ten years, but it remains on the surface of the sounds only, not to what resonates and connects it all underneath. One could also marvel just at how the bow moves on, say, Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites or even Xenakis' scores for the Arditti Quartet, but there's also an essence beyond mere physicality. As I begin to discern the high squeal of bus brakes outside or the incessant pulsations of the electric pest repellent already plugged in as they fuse with and then secede from Ikeda's latest compositions, I keep thinking that by refusing his electronic past for this compositional project, he might have missed the pointillism. [Andy Beta]
Those familiar with the past work of Ryoji Ikeda, producer of clinical, ultra-minimal electronics, will find Op. both unexpected and familiar. His delicate, near super-audible textures are familiar, but the exclusive use of string instruments is not. In the past, composers such as Stockhausen and Boulez have oscillated between or combined strings and electronics, but for a non-academic electronic producer to move into conventional composition is a new development. Op. bears out similarities to French "spectral music" and the wider field of 20th century composition. This is not to say that appreciation of this work is dependent on knowledge of these fields, but the historical parallels do add a valuable dimension. The strongest moments here are the most recessed and intangible, the weakest the most literal and conventional. This split is between passages of fairly conventional string instrumentation that sometimes appears too literal for Ikeda and more spectral passages that sound almost electronic. In these sections Ikeda's mastery of near silence shines, and pure, sculpted tones glisten coldly like a thin layer of digital ice forming on the music. Op. produces tone pictures suggestive of sharp horizons on intensely cold, cloudless winter days. The prevalent mood is mournful, its beauty bleak rather than seductive. It is surprising how European and conventional Op. can sound. Set next to the most drawn out, near silent passages, the pizzicato strings seem too clumsy and literal. Ikeda only partially succeeds in transcending the stylistic limitations of the string quartet in the way that, for instance, the Balanescu Quartet have done, even if Ikeda's ambitions are greater. It will be interesting to see whether electronic or classical audiences respond better to this material; for comparison's sake it would be instructive to see a previously conventional composer produce a totally electronic work. Op. succeeds both as a traditional modernist work for strings and as something more formally experimental. Yet, whilst it feels unified, it suggests an uneasy compromise between the lure of conventional instrumental expression and Ikeda's proven skills at sonic reductionism. He could go much further by doing much less with, or more to, his new sound palette. [Alexei Monroe]
It will be no surprise to those familiar with Ikeda's sound work to hear that his new release begins on a long suspended high frequency note, but it will be immediately apparent that instead of this being another
fine collection of (what I jokingly term) the 'spatia-minima hearing test-tronics' that he is well known for, this appears to be a very promising next stage of works involving acoustic instruments exploring similar
territory. Most who are familiar with Ikeda's previous work will find this new release of compositions for string trio and quartet to be a seemingly logical continuation of the sonic territory he has acutely explored before with electronics. One difference some may find between the electronic works and the string pieces is that they might evoke more emotion in some listeners, whereas the electronic works stimulated only the intellect. Nevertheless, some will still find 'op.' to be austere, cold, and only slightly warmer than the electronic works, due in part by the string instrumentation. This release presents 3 opuses - hence the title - and one 'prototype' version of the first work entitled 'op. 1 for Strings'. All in all, I personally find that these lovely, elegiac and thought-provoking works accomplish what many a classically trained modern composer has not been able or inclined to do: sustain and shift long meditative/contemplative passages throughout the entire duration of their compositions without feeling the common and somewhat academic need to display disruptive outbursts of atonal tempi spasms. Perhaps this is due, in part, to Ikeda not being a classically trained virtuoso musician or composer? Perhaps classical music, as a genre, will experience regeneration in a new generation of untrained composers who aren't so steeped and entrenched in academic tradition? Ikeda's works give me some hope, at least. [DL]
"No electronic sounds used on these recordings" ist wohl die wichtigste Feststellung, die man zum neuen Album von Ryoji Ikeda machen muss. Ryoji Ikeda, der mit Alben wie "Matrix" und "+/-" die moderne Elektronik entscheidend bereicherte, versucht sich nun erfolgreich auf neuem Terrain. Aufgenommen wurde "Op." In Belgien und Japan. Ikeda realisiert sein neoklassisch anmutendes Opus 1 bis Opus 3 mit ausgesuchten Musikern aus dem Art-Zoyd-Umfeld, mit dem "Musiques Nouvelles Ensemble", sowie einem klassischen Streichertrio aus dem "New National Theatre" in Tokio. Ikedas bisherige Werke lesen sich wie ein Panorama der Möglichkeiten der neuen Musik: er lieferte Compilationbeiträge zu "Clicks & Cuts", der genrebereitenden Compilationserie von Mille Plateaux, er komponierte Musik zur Ausstellung des japanischen Stararchitekten Toyo Ito, er gewann die "Golden Nica" bei der Ars Electronica in der Kategorie "Digitale Musik", er lieferte Soundinstallationen für die Sonic Boom", der Londoner Ausstellung von David Toop, er absolvierte diverse Auftritte im Centre Pompidou, er nahm unter dem Projektnamen "Cyclo" mit Carsten Nicolai für dessen Label Raster auf und generierte unter anderem das Sound Design für das Museum Ludwig in Aachen. Wie schon in vorangegangen Werken spielt Ikeda virtuos mit den Begriffen "Zeit" und "Raum" und nutzt eine Tonalität, die subtil die Wahrnehmung des Hörers verschiebt. Nicht umsonst ist der Untertitel der "Matrix"-Installationen – "for acoustic dislocation", ein Programm zur Aufhebung einer linearen Sinneserfahrung dieser Komponenten. Auch wenn "Op." Sehr minimalistisch arrangiert ist, so ist in den Kompositionen doch die starke Präsenz eines der außergewöhnlichsten Musiker der Gegenwart voll spürbar.
Tijd Cultuur (Belgium):
In de tweede helft van de jaren negentig bracht Ryoji Ikeda bij Touch een trilogie essentiële releases uit +/- (1996), 0°C (1998) en Matri(2000) die een intelligente brug tussen techno en elektronische sinustonen sloegen. De hyperminimalistische stijl van de Japanner was ronduit uniek: met staccatobleeps als van morseapparatuur, forse zoembeats en enkele luchtledige tonen creëerde hij een spannend, futuristisch geluid dat meanderde tussen aftastend swingen en glaciale meesterlijkheid. Ikeda leverde eigenlijk tientallen werkstukken in die lijn. Zo componeerde hij voor het danscollectief Dumb Type (Tokio), bouwde hij installaties rond zijn geluid en bracht hij een haast onoverzichtelijke stroom (andere dan hierboven opgesomde) releases in zijn typerende stijl uit. Na vijf jaar liep de Japanner dus in cirkels: zijn muzikale luciditeit was een uitgemolken procédé geworden. Daarom meldde hij in 2000, met de release van het krachtige Matrix, een pauze te lassen in zijnelektronisch gestoelde output. Een alternatief vond hij in gecomponeerde, akoestische strijkermuziek die hij met het Belgische Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles uitwerkte. Op. laat een compleet andere Ikeda horen. Wat een moedige ommezwaai heet, levert een bijzonder mager resultaat op: Ikeda‚s composities zijn oersaai en kitscherig. Zo bestaat de frasering uit een handvol repetitieve bewegingen waar in overlappende akkoorden afwisselend resonantie en dissonantie ontstaat. Die aanpak geeft Op. iets van een thrillersoundtrack zonder suspens, verrassingen of gruwel. Ruim een uur boeit de nieuwe, maniëristische Ikeda dus niet, nergens valt een spat van leven, gedrevenheid, humor of spanning te bespeuren die zijn eerdere werken zo kenmerkten. Op.laat enkel een opgeblazen gevoel van leegte na. In feite groeide het album uit Experiences de Vol, een tijdelijke samenwerking tussen Ryoji Ikeda en Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles onder leiding van Art Zoyd. Onder die noemer bood het gezelschap doorheen de jaren in hun thuisstudio te Maubeuge dertien internationale componisten/ muzikanten een tijdelijke residentie aan om samen nieuw werk te brouwen. Extracten van de gedeelde sessies met ondermeer Kasper T. Toeplitz, Gérard Hourbette, Fausto Romitelli, Atau Tanaka, Jean-Christophe Feldhandler, Jean-Luc Fafchamps, David Shea en Gualtiero Dazzi staan verzameld op de driedubbele cd Experiences de vol. De gasten stoelen allen op academisch onderlegde achtergronden ? van akoestisch over harmonisch tot elektronisch en elektro-akoestisch ? en blijven allen trouw aan gecomponeerde muziek. Formeel tekenen zich wel grote verschillen tussen de werken af. Zo voedt Sollima zich aan 18de eeuwse volksmuziek die hij in Casanova met rammelende drumritmes confronteert, terwijl David Shea met zijn werk tegelijkertijd naar de filmmuziek van Bernard Hermann en naar het recentere werk van Philip Sheppard en The Smith Quartet knipoogt. Jean-Christophe Feldhandler schreef het indrukwekkende Elargissement de Ciel voor ondermeer cello, midi en sampler en vertrekt daarbij vanuit een harmonische cyclus van vier akkoorden die krols uitmonden in een kortstondige noisegolf. De verschillende achtergronden en uitgangspunten van de componisten maken van het lijvige Experiences de vol een erg gevarieerde bundeling. Jammer genoeg staat die variatie hier ook voor hoogtes en laagtes: niet altijd overtuigen de
bijdrages, zoals in het geval Ryoji Ikeda bijvoorbeeld. [Ive Stevenheydens]
and an Italian review in Blow Up can be read here
»No electronic sounds used«. Ryoji Ikeda, einer der Wegbereiter der digitalen Klangästhetik auf ganz neuen Wegen: »op.« zelebriert nicht die von Ikeda miterfundene »Glitch«-Kultur des absichtsvollen Fehlermachens, aber auch nicht die schweren elektronischen Drones seiner letzten Veröffentlichungen. Stattdessen ein durchkomponiertes Stück in klassischer Form, akustische Einspielung eines Streichquartetts in vier Sätzen. Eine komplette Abkehr von den bisherigen Arbeiten Ikedas ist »op.« jedoch nicht. Einflüsse besonders der amerikanischen Musikavantgarde der 60er Jahre waren in allen Werken Ikedas spürbar. Doch während sich Ikedas elektronische Arbeiten auf die gerade im Bereich der avancierten Elektronik wieder sehr aktuellen und beliebten Pole Minimalismus und Drone (von La Monte Young, Terry Riley bis Tony Conrad) bezogen, verweisen die akustischen Klangbilder in »op.« auf andere Vorbilder aus der Neuen Musik der selben Zeit. Vorbilder, die heute esoterischer und weniger einfach in das aktuelle Musikgeschehen adaptierbar erscheinen: Einerseits Morton Feldman, George Crumb oder Alvin Lucier. Komponisten, die an der Auflösung konventioneller musikalischer Strukturen gearbeitet haben ? aber nicht im Sinne einer Auflösung hin zur einer überkomplexen seriellen oder atonalen Musik, sondern hin zu einer tendenziell leisen, feinen Musik der mikroskopischen tonalen Verschiebungen. Andererseits lassen manche Passagen auf »op.« an das »Adagio for Strings« des eher konservativen Neo-Romantikers Samuel Barber denken. Doch die stumpfe Aufzählung hochkultureller Referenzen wird dieser Musik in keinster Weise gerecht. »op.« ist eben auch ohne angelernten (Musik-)Theorieüberbau verständlich und auf die konventionellste vorstellbare Art und Weise »schöne« Musik. Gleichzeitig aber auch eine Musik, die mit den Möglichkeiten ihrer eigenen Abwesenheit spielt, für die Stille das zentrale Konstruktionsprinzip darstellt. Das Schweigen der Klänge, der Geräusche, ist der Anziehungspunkt, in den diese Musik konvergiert. Eine im allerpositivsten Sinn »schwache« Musik, die unabhängig von der Lautstärke, in der sie gehört wird, dazu tendiert, schon hinter den leisesten Umweltgeräuschen zu verschwinden. Selbst das Knarzen eines Stuhls oder das Rappeln eines Kühlschranks sind stärkere Signale, die Ikedas Musik zum verstummen bringen können. Es ist eine Musik, die das Schweigen umkreist und dennoch unendlich viel kommuniziert - und damit sehr nahe an die besondere Art von Schönheit herankommt, die von Annette Peacock auf so wunderbare Weise formuliert wurde: »Ich bin auf der Suche nach dem Raum, der zwischen zwei Atemzügen entsteht, der Stille vor dem ersten Kuss zweier Liebender. Die wichtigsten Ereignisse im Leben eines Menschen werden von Stille eingerahmt.
electronic sounds used on these recordings", heißt es dagegen auf
Ryoji Ikedas neuester CD, was verwundern mag, denn Ikeda ist eigentlich ähnlich
wie Vainio für eine Musik zwischen Minimal-Elektronik und Klangkunst -
durchaus im Museums-Kontext - bekannt. "Op" dagegen bietet reine Ensemble-Musik,
zum Teil von einem klassischen Streichtrio eingespielt, zum Teil von Musikern
der belgischen Prog-Band Art Zoyd. Der außergewöhnliche Analog-Ausflug
des Labels wird auch optisch hervorgehoben: Das schlichte, ganz und gar in Weiß
gehaltene Cover spielt nicht mehr mit visuellen Assoziationen, vielleicht, um
anzudeuten, dass bei "Op" nicht strukturelle Abfolgen im Mittelpunkt
stehen, sondern geradezu das Gefühl von Statik erzeugt wird. Die hauchdünnen
Streichertöne scheinen regelrecht, permanent dünn ziselierend, in
der Luft zu stehen. Auch hier entsteht der Eindruck von Präsenz und Trance
bei größtmöglicher Zurückhaltung. Als Vorbild ist sehr
schnell Morton Feldman ausgemacht, der leiseste und langsamste unter den Komponisten
des vorigen Jahrhunderts, einer, der Rockmusik als "faschistisch"
bezeichnet hatte, weil sie sich nicht von Rhythmus und Lautstärke lösen
könne. Und doch besaß auch Feldmans Musik etwas, wonach die Rockmusik
stets suchte: psychedelische Wirkung. Nun kann man Ikeda allerdings nicht vorwerfen,
er habe die soundorientierte neue Musik einfach nur adaptiert, denn im Gegensatz
zu Feldman arbeitet "Op" fast ausschließlich mit der Abfolge
von anschwellenden Klangflächen, die es schwer machen, eine Kompositionsabfolge
erkennen zu lassen. Auch hier sorgt Strenge für den gegenteiligen Effekt,
nämlich für Beruhigung.
High concept digital art from Japan. Matrix [for rooms], the first of this double cd album, comprises of ten pulsing, ambient rhythms that form a lulling white noise. These are defined by Ryoji as invisible patterns which fill the listening space the listeners movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music. Its true turn your head or walk around the room and you will find the pattern mysteriously changes with you. Its an unusual way of listening, although what end it serves is left entirely to your imagination. The second cd might perhaps a little more rewarding to the diehard ambient fan, though rewarding isnt really a word that should be used for soundscapes this austere and minimal. In the absence of all melody and nearly all syncopation, there is merely the drone of the machine. At times its as if 2001s dying supercomputer (HAL) decided to experiment with a little Glass and Reich this is sound which often has no sense of human context or involvement. Bravely experimental. FB - www.bigchill.net
A bobbing, curling drone. Enervating foghorn gush. Ikeda, Japans kinetic lacerator, makes noise out of pure, quotidian, regular sound unusually vibrant tones, zealously xenophilic yodels. Zipping, yon, x-ray wallops vault undulating toward subtle reminders: quarks purged of never. Melted light. Knowing, joined in holy gone, faraway, ethereal, demonic, crepescular, bulbous, atomic. And both CDs delight. Electric frequencies gut hollows inside. Jagged keening loops menacingly, neurotically. Odd promise quakes, rupture spills, texture undoes, vertigo waces. Xanax yearnings zero. Zorns yellowed, xeric wastes vanquished under the silence riled. Quixotic purity occludes noise, mass, light. Knife jabbed into hearing, gracefully. Force, entropy, deadly collisions. Beautiful. Absolute. [Philip Sherburne, XLR8R, USA]
Conceptual sound art can have a tendency to fall flat on its backside. Thus, its a great pleasure to announce that renowned tonality proponent Ryoji Ikeda has thoroughly come up trumps with this absolutely superb double album of metatones that must represent an all-time high for the already excellent touch label. Part 1 ("Matrix for Rooms") is an hour-long continuous flow foggy, echoing high-pitch frequencies that pulse leisurely. This in itself is not a big deal. What is a big deal is the manner in which this creates a matrix-like sound field in the listening environment; wherever you sit (or stand, or whatever) in the room, the whole sound undergoes a transformation, either in pitch, timbre, or tempo. As such, it is potentially a unique experience on each occasion; such are the benefits of piling these particular tones (which exist in a very narrow range) on top of one another. Such things have been done in installation spaces, but I'm not aware of any such project reaching the CD environment before, not in as complete a form as this at any rate. This is (in its own quiet way) potentially explosive stuff. But even if you remain perfectly still, there is something about this slowly evolving pitch that is totally engrossing anyway. This isn't so much background music for your foreground activities as vice versa. Part 2 sees a greater paring back of the high-end frequencies and the introduction of some fearsomely enveloping bass dives. Though it can't hope to repeat the versatility of the earlier piece, this section is rooted firmly in the ~scape school of dub-techno and offers up 30 minutes that more than holds its own against anyone in that field. Indeed, this has a depth sometimes lacking in the minimal Teutonic pulse. A must buy, basically. [John Gibson, Grooves, USA]
Ryoji Ikeda is beginning to hone his post-Lucier millennial minimalism down to two deceivingly simple ideas - the physiological impact minimal sounds can have on the listeners, and music of pattern. He also seems to be joining the current movement of japanese sound artists who are narrowing their musical pallettes as a reaction against information overload. Gone are the intense media collages and the layered ambience. Matrix is Ikeda's purest statement of intent to date. One CD full of sine waves that seem to change pulse and fold in on themselves as you move about the room, and another of simple pulses and tones evolving into a strangely funky way of approaching the usual BPMs. [Chad Oliveiri, City Newspaper, Rochester, USA]
Ryoji Ikeda has always produced such stark, clinical recordings. He rarely conceals the sounds in his palette, and oftentimes it seems like he is presenting us with sound purity itself. Take, for example, his contribution to the 20' to 2000 series (on Raster-Noton), where he exploited the 440 Hz sine wave beyond its own structure, and you can begin to understand where his ears are. This new double-disc release sees him exploring similar territory, though here he does less of the work himself. This time, he is relying on the listener to do some of the work for him. The first disc is titled matrix [for rooms], and with very good reason. The liner notes state that the recording "forms an invisible pattern which fills the listening space," whereby "the listener's movement transforms the phenomenon into his±her intrapersonal music." And truer this could not be. A simple, straight-ahead approach to listening to this disc will reveal very little change; it's only when one begins to walk around the room, slowly and steadily, to reveal the hidden patterns evident in the tracks. A shift of one's head to the left, and the change is obvious. Stand up, it changes again. I was never quite sure if it was my movements changing the sounds, or if Ikeda was changing the sounds at the precise moments I shifted around. For this reason, the disc should be played at a reasonable volume and from a capable sound system. The effect is virtually lost on smaller systems, and not half as dramatic. One could argue that this effect is more than present on any number of recordings, that a hurdy-gurdy or a bagpipe will sound different if you face the speaker or turn away from it, but never has that audible shift been so apparent, so feasible. Ikeda has created an undeniable soundspace that one can walk right through and get lost in. Of course, one can't creep around the room for the entire 60 minutes of the disc, and for that reason there are subtle changes contained within of a more obvious nature. If the first disc requires your actions and concentration to make the most of it, you're in for a more relaxed time on the second disc, .matrix. Here we find Ikeda toying around with his sine waves in a more entertaining, rhythmic manner. The 30-minute disc wouldn't sound out of place on Staalplaat's "material" series, as it's full of crackles, rumbles and stumbles that would make any glitch-head proud. There were some moments that reminded me of The Hafler Trio's start to Masturbatorium, with its high sine vs. low sine battle. There's the recurring sound of a heartbeat, which plays like a rumbling bass line and adds a (dare I say) "human touch" to the tracks. He plays quite nicely with some rhythms, and this does seem a logical step for Ikeda to take his ideas to from time to time. Ikeda has constructed a very enticing and opposing set of discs here that play with some unique and well executed ideas. The sound quality is first-rate, and the binary number track listings (i.e. "0000000001") are the perfect match for this digital creation of his. [Vils M DiSanto, Incursion]
A few years ago, when I told my friend Theresa to go see La Monte Youngs long-running Dream House installation on Church St., she came back and gleefully reported that she played the room with her head. Puzzled, I asked her what she meant. She told me that by simply moving her head in the space of Youngs installation, she could control the pitch and frequencies of Youngs droney sine waves. Youngs installation is a must-see/must-experience for all, but if for some reason you cant make it down there (and there should be no reason: the shows been running for the past eight years and is scheduled to continue until June 23, 2001), you might want to pick up Ryoji Ikedas new disc, which, when played loudly, almost replicates the Young experience. Now Im not technically savvy and certainly dont understand what makes these pieces do what they do (try to decipher this ditty from La Monte Young: The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 with The Addition of 279 and 261 in Which The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped above and Including 288 Consists of The Powers of 2 Multiplied by The Primes within The Ranges of 144 to 128, 72 to 64 and 36 to 32 Which Are Symmetrical to Those Primes in Lowest Terms in The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped below and Including 224within The Ranges 126 to 112, 63 to 56 and 31.5 to 28 with The Addition of 119, a periodic composite sound waveform environment created from sine wave components generated digitally in real time on a custom-designed Rayna interval synthesizer). Similarly, Ikedas track listing from his new disc looks like this:
TO:44.1: 10 tracks = 60:00
matrix [for rooms] 0000000001
matrix [for rooms] 0000000010
matrix [for rooms] 0000000100
matrix [for rooms] 0000001000
matrix [for rooms] 0000010000
matrix [for rooms] 0000100000
matrix [for rooms] 0001000000
matrix [for rooms] 0010000000
matrix [for rooms] 0100000000
matrix [for rooms] 1000000000
TO:44.2: 10 tracks = 31:03
From what I understand, when you put a couple of sustained tones that are close in pitch near each other, they create a shimmery, fluttering type of sonic activity that tickles your eardrums. And when you move your head slightly, the sine waves react to your physical motion and, in turn, change their sound. Ikedas Matrix is in 10 parts, each roughly five minutes long and each having a slightly different set of tones, giving a slightly different set of aural impressions. Moving from rather low hums straight up into the higher registers, the results are very powerful. Like thumping sub-bass from the back of a Jeep, Ikedas sounds actually affect not just your ears, but the core of your body; his pulses seem to be timed to bodily pulses and everything from your breathing to your blood circulation seems to fall in time with Ikedas music. A couple of words of caution though. This disc needs to be played on a stereo in a room. If you try to listen to it on headphones, all youll really hear is a consistent tone; the dynamics of moving your head to "play the piece" will not be possible. Likewise, when I played it on my WFMU show, I received complaints from listeners who, due to WFMUs lousy reception, are forced to keep their radio inmono. It seems that they, too, only heard a dullish set of drones. While La Monte Youngs pieces are always better heard live than on a recording, Ikedas are just the opposite. Reflecting his generations infatuation with the vast possibilities of digital technology and manipulation, the recording becomes the ultimate fetishized product. In doing so, Ikeda takes installation art to a whole new level: the personal and the omnipresent. As it is with so much other digital technology these days, one neednt leave ones chair to experience what once was only kept in museums. [Kenneth Goldsmith, New York Press]
Matrix is the third in a trilogy of releases by influential Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda on the UK label Touch. As a release it is 2CD set which works as two distinct ideas to a degree - matrix [for rooms] and .matrix. Each disc follows a similar pattern, in that each features 10 tracks that represent a 10x10 matrix, with the first disc representing the scale 0000000001 to 1000000000 and the second from 1111111110 to 0111111111. matrix [for rooms] is the more difficult of the discs in some ways, as it represents the recordings from an installation piece. The matrix describing a spatial environment, with the nodes in that environment being represented by sound - the result should be that as a person travels through that spatial collection the sounds should interact according to the route they take. The result should be dependent on that individual, which is fine for the real time installation. But as a recording it will be more difficult to recreate that sensation, as each piece is essentially one tone fluctuating for a period as a representation of a node. For the most part this documents the installation rather than recreating it, providing the listener with only a sense of the potential. Taking the disc as is the following is what we experience, though some variation could be generated by using a random function on your player: 0000000001 sets up a low pulse, maintained in a slow increase of penetrative drones. Hints of a wavering edge as the frequency of the rotation decreases gradually. This is an overwhelming focus, the pulse becoming a strobe approximation, then a subtle sequence. Again a shift so that the pulse has a clearer definition in tones that suggests an almost rhythmic fluctuation. Slowly increasing frequency once more. But in the process changing the affect of the sound between, to an almost sub-audible clipping. 0000000010 introduces a second tone, a more bas orientated hum. Behind which the affect of 0000000001 seems to fade till the hum has a definite dominance. Again this starts at a certain frequency and slows, but being at a different tonal level we get a different result; indeed the slow down is more pronounced. In time becoming narcoleptic, the slowing of sound and sustain of bass shifting in to 0000000100. The pitch of the sound shifted mildly, less pronounced than 0000000001 to 0000000010. Raising the frequency to a seesaw then lowering a notch. This sets up the sort of spiral that could almost inspire sea sickness. A second tone comes in, more periodic and brusque - momentary tick then it is gone as the primary sound deepens with slow rotations. Within a separate oscillation seems to develop with the turn to 0000001000, taking over the flow in an almost unnoticed switch. This maintains a progress of a form that is by now familiar. Sustaining a tonal back and forth we move on to the swing of 0000010000, like a hypnotist gathering a subject's focus. Minimising as the sound itself focuses. As before another tone come up, different again, and triggering change to 0000100000. This is a higher sound, closer to 0000000001, with the last purr of 0000010000 barely maintained as this is increasingly established. As it continues we have the impression of an almost constant sound, though we can still detect the fluctuant inferences in the flow. Increasing and shifting to provide another aspect of the pulse stream. Slowing a degree so that the oscillating pattern is more discernible once more, which flows into 0001000000, deceptively becoming a more solid sound once more. Higher pulse like a warm stroke of metallic edge, setting a vibrant example. Increasing to rise in pitch, to pierce, with little dips at the peak of the component wave. Evening out in more equilibrium based level. Streamlining we shift to 0010000000, a higher sound coming in at a reduced level and rising as with previous transitions. Working the two levels against each other till the new pitch is dominant, the old carrying on just that little extra and then gone. Strangely each new piercing level seems more so than the last, though this could be a perception affected by the way the sounds shift like this to become slowly less piercing. Slowing frequency in itself strips a degree of intensity. then shifting pitch a notch and increasing frequency again to a spiral that plays with the edges of insinuation. Approaching invisibility then flitting through a pulse form the sound intensifies back up to a tight funnel, which represents the move on to 0100000000. The level of spectrum that this piece attains flirts with spectral. Becoming something of a wash that doesn't entirely seem tangible. Then it is dopplering off itself, creating a curious spatial sensation in the process. A note forms with passage to 1000000000, its momentary inflection hooking into the sounds of 0100000000 and dragging the frequency down. The interplay works on a certain extreme of tonal shifts. Slowing, to become gradual rotary strokes. Focusing into a line, sine form flattening. A deeper sound comes up, allowing a shift in the overall effect of this track. In contrast to the introduction of low tone comes a high tone on the edge of hearing, approaching ever nearer as existing levels slow further. 1000000000 clearly being the culmination of the CD in the way that it is allowing as much change and detail as has occurred over the entire course of the previous 9 parts. A process which continues to work with the distinction of elements, to a point which surely is of the highest frequency achieved here and really does risk leaving the range of audibility. Of course even then it still has an effect on your perception, before the album is in fact over, and even so the lasting effect of the last level is felt in my ears. With consideration there is a clear overlap between the elements of the proposed "nodes" of the matrix, which leaves me curious as to how the "real" thing was set up and how pure a representation of the installation these pieces are. By contrast .matrix is considerably more accessible than matrix [for rooms], in that it is more about composition than installation, though one can detect continuity in the sound palate used between the two discs. 1111111110 starts with a slight pulse, periodic brush against hearing, low rotation coming up and in turn boosting the initial sound to a more audible level. A third level starts up, another rotation, a flitting spin that works off the existing detail. With a marked pulse that sets up a spatial rhythm we have 1111111101. This bobs to the fore with waves to back it up, working it's way in, to draw the listener's attention. Filtered down again to the bare transmission of blip signal comes 1111111011. Setting up an echo, and a mild skip breath punctuation. This moves on to 1111110111, a brush pulse and the insinuation of click detail. The clicks become more pinprick pulses, finely toned. Bass comes up as a deepened pulse allowing for the more rhythmic form of 1111101111. Gases are released in little fizzes that mix in with the flow of the shifting pulse details. A background stroke offers an approximate bass line, it's fluctuation note like. A new pulse and echo triggers the change to 1111011111, and in the process we are another step towards an accessible simulation of techno in minimal blip form. Snare like sounds plunge in momentary motion, repeating to go with the other layers. A light stroke brushes an edge, a kind of whistling that leads to 1110111111. Wavering notes and sounds give a denser feel to this piece, again an almost techno feel. Micro dunts tack along while electronic signals blip and chop through programmed sequences. Vapour snare catches. A sturdy bass pulse taking over. A blip pulse sequence and periodic bass dip starts off 1101111111. Tightening in a spiral with time, then with the filtered level extruding the impression of sound outwards. A spin tone comes up in the background, a slow upwards spiral that is gradually approaching the surface. In turn the previous more in to a slow fade, and as the sound moves to the fore it filters down to a low sustained drone that marks the start of 1011111111. Again this shifts a notch and in turn triggers 0111111111. A low bass pulse hints at a presence, with a more pronounced intonation. This works through periods of low humming spiral and layered pulses. [remote induction, PTR]
Anybody who was at the recent Japanorama concert in Sheffield will be familiar with the concept of this album. Ikeda works in pure sound through digital recording processes, setting up a drone which imperceptibly changes, although more dramatic alterations can be made simply by making slight movements of the head. You may end up with a ricked neck and are unlikely to whistle the "tunes", but its also a strange new form of home entertainment. [The Sheffield Telegraph]
the reigning master of what might be called ambiglitch. Unlike most of the artists
who make their music from the sounds of skipping CDs, computer malfunctions,
and other technical disasters, Ikeda works at the edge of rhythm and sometimes
even audibility, using his clicks sparingly over shifting patterns of jostling
low tones. This can have a Cagean effect; the rattle of my heating pipes never
sounded more musical than when the first of these two discs was playing. Entitled
"matrix (for rooms)", it's an hour-long mix of ten tracks assembled from oscillating
hums, which evolve through repetition and variation a la Philip Glass, but,
oddly, both faster and less urgent. Sometimes there's a nyaah- nyaahing quality,
sometimes you're sure these frequencies were chosen to make your poodle lunge
at your neck, but sometimes a kind of white-noise peace ascends.
Ikeda intends it to form an "invisible pattern which fills the listening space. The listener's movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music." Don't ask me -- the same thing happens when I listen to Bach or Kraftwerk. Disc 2, ".matrix", has as many tracks but is half as long, and more like Ikeda's other work, mostly terse sub-bass rhythms bumping up against each other with tweety bits on top. It's also twice as fun -- call me shallow, but I prefer a record that moves, doesn't make its points through irritation, and doesn't overstay its welcome. No instructions, either. Smart, entertaining, invigorating yet relaxing, it would've made a fine release on its own. A divided offering; will couples break up over which disc each one prefers? [PN, Other Music, NYC, USA]
Endlich ist die neue Ikeda Doppel-CD da. Matrix bildet den Schlusspunkt der Trilogie auf Touch. Wie es wohl weiter gehen wird? Egal. Matrix (for rooms), die erste CD, ist reiner Sinus. Zehn Variationen der Wellenform, die an allem Schuld ist. Sonische Therapie, nach der man nicht nur taub sondern auch generell mehr als geheilt ist. Zeit und Raum, stehen, liegen, schweben, wer, wie, wo, was...alles komplett egal. 60 Minuten Sinus und du weisst, dass andere Dinge zählen als die, über die du dir tagtäglich den Kopf zerbrichst. '.matrix', CD Nummer zwei, ist dagegen fast schon tanzbar, fegt einen mit Subbässen, von denen andere nicht mal träumen, und hochfrequenten Fiepsern durchs Zimmer, baut sich Stück für Stück auf, setzt immer noch einen drauf, rummst plötzlich mit plöckriger Bassdrum los, rauscht, pumpt und knarzt, groovt und funkt, bevor der Sinus zurückkehrt und gemeinsam mit den bass nach Hause morst. Grossartig. [de:bug mailing list]
[trans.: Finally the new Ikeda double-cd is out. Matrix is the last part of the Touch trilogy. How will it continue? Anyway, 'Matrix (for rooms)', the first cd, is only sine waves. 10 variations of the waveform which is responsible for everything. Time and space, standing, lying, floating, who, how, where, what ... nothing matters. 60 minutes of sine waves and one knows that other things are more important than the things one worries about all day long.' .Matrix', cd no 2, by contrast, is almost danceable. One is swept through the room by its sub-bass and highfrequency cheeping of which others aren't even dreaming, it develops piece by piece, puts yet another one on top, starts all of a sudden with the bass drum, roars, pumps and rattles, grooves and is funky before sines and morse signals return and find their way home together with the bass. Sublime. (thaddi, de.bug mailing list)]
Matrix is artist Ryoji Ikeda's third in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/- in 1996. This two CD set, a hour and a half total, serves two purposes, as an environmental art work and hypnotic, trance-inducing meditative exercise. Since +/- release, Ikeda has increasingly advanced his work creating microsonic sound sculptures that fall outside of labelling, while thrusting his musical ideas in to audacious new horizons. Here, what sounds as a single note of droning lab-setting sterility are, in fact, layers of analogous waves that fluctuate slowly, gently, often without the listener's awareness. While most music seems to lose its gestalt when the listener distances himself or herself, here the sounds morph, changing pitch and frequency, becoming even more complex and interesting. Each subsequent room with its independent acoustics provide yet another set of sounds. One is able to change the sound by walking through the listening area as well as simply shifting the listening position. This amazing characteristic puts Matrix in a class of it's own and gives cause for the listener to rethink our ideas of space/music relationships. With a steadied listening position, eyes shut, the Matrix may give rise to visions and lucid thought process as if clearing the mind's palette to allow for deep meditation Š a dreaming while conscious state. This sonic building - a virtual auto-interactive sound world of complex micro-rhythms Š is necessary for anyone looking towards the use of the drone as sculpture. [Raging Consciousness, USA]
A past master at making recording to fit the space in which they are heard, including The Millennium Dome in London, Ryoji Ikeda's Matrix brings the sounds indoors to a set of speakers and their surroundings near you. The sounds are set in layers to send the listener and their environment out of their current space and into another - or others as the sound field is moved around, within, across even. Matrix [For Rooms] makes up the hour-long CD1 of the set, and really does take hold of the space in which it is listened to, riding on microtones and tails of tones. Where the stero spectrum meets is where the action is; trun the balance one way or another and a more singular drone falls back, revealing the harmonic interplay through its absence. Immersive is the word, and for a change this is one recording which definitely doesn't require headphones for the full (extra?)sensory effect. Wobbly, warbly, thrillingly dynamic over ageless stretches of time in a suitably Zen manner, and occasionally beautiful too. Systems music? Yes please! CD 2 has big lowering rhythms to wade through, a veritable bath of bass and the highest of squeaks. The space between jumps with implied and real energies, making for one of the more luxuriously-imagined mathematical soundscape compositions of these times, to recombinant effect as the glitches and bleeps take hold. Who said that theoretical art can't be fun? This is one of those pieces which takes off somewhere beyond the mere comprehension of its thirty minute running time, and demands appreciation at the volume the reproducing amplifier's speakers and surrounding objects will allow. And the neighbours, of course - or not, if they're unpleasant. Matrix is the CD of ideal choice for anyone in possession of one of those cars with ultra-violet lights attached to the underside and huge great bass bins which are known to cruise city streets by night, blasting all and sundry with the appalling low-end residue of Swingbeat and Garage. Or even better, one of those quad bicycle-powered sound systems seen at street parties. Perfect revenge on anyone who has inflicted Top Ten misery on the neighbourhood - take Matrix for a spin around the block, laze away the summer daze in the garden or on the porch, experiment with the acoustic properties of the serried ranks of wind-tunnel towerblocks and railway arches, or simply pop it on in the kitchen while washing some dishes. [Frequency, net]
Ikeda's music comprises sine waves, digital tones, subsonic pulses, minimal technoid rhythms and microscopic noise particles. Hence, it's often discussed in austere, abstract terms, as 'art' to be exhibited under glass (or in the Millenium Dome, where Ikeda had a polite 'installation'). Play it at bastard volume in a crowded room, though, (like we did in the Muzik office) and reactions range from "my teeth hurt" to "I need the toilet" to "I'm going insane". In short, then, it's music for the body as well as the mind (heard that somewhere before?) - it provokes responses, spreads confusion and sounds like nothing else on Earth. It's the accidental punk rock record of the year so far. Tom Mugridge VITAL RELEASE 5/5 'LEFTFIELD' page MUZIK Feb 2001
has this year exhibited 'Matrix (for an Anechoic Room)' at the ICC, Tokyo and
'Matrix' at the Millennium Dome, London. This double CD release is presumably
some kind of translation of those works from public arena into private living
space, perhaps to further facilitate Ikeda's stated desire that the individual
listener experience their own "intrapersonal music". 'Matrix (for Rooms)', comprising
ten tracks on CD1, is composed from various layered and sustained sine tones
and overtones which vary gradually (usually on or near track boundaries) over
the 60 minute duration. To dispel any initial doubts there may be regarding
its nature let it be said that this is no clinical or scientific exercise. The
tones are sensuous and invite interaction. They bathe the room (if played at
sufficient volume) and create moirˇ patterns which dance (albeit in slo-mo)
but which are sometimes so pronounced that a head movement is enough to elicit
a shift in rhythm and effect. The tones also pulsate, alternately reinforcing
and cancelling, and set up arhythmic parabolic movements like those of a faltering
gyroscope whose spin has spun out. The work is insistent: it demands attention
and a willingness to vary the listening position. (Not surprisingly the effect
is lost and is altogether less engaging (read: flattened) on headphones.) However,
small effort and some tenacity is amply rewarded. An uplifting experience from
start to finish, albeit one which which is unlikely to have you hitting 'play'
again straight away. The ten tracks on CD 2 which make up '.matrix' can perhaps
be seen as a continuation along the line of Ikeda's stunning 'Headphonics' and
although made from the same sine-tone-stuff as its counterpart on CD 1 it is
a more rhythmically-orientated set. Ikeda deploys thudding heartbeats and microscopic
pinprick clicks to equal effect; bleeding together pulsating tones, hisses and
blinking LEDs he makes full use of the stereo plane. The ten parts can be taken
in in one perfectly measured sweep. Easy listening. [GM, Array, UK]
Didn't like this one at first, now I think it's a steely glacial meisterwerk. My scepticism of computer music increases on a daily basis, but there's more 'work' I hear from slapdash amateurs footling about with their thousand-pound laptops, the more I can appreciate the monumental qualities of Matrix. I saw Ryoji Ikeda doing his thang live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall some time ago - probably at start of year 2000. His music makes a lot more sense when played over a massive PA and with no restraints on the volume - which equals no respect for the eardrums and nervous systems of the listeners. Sure, he works exclusively with 'pure' digital tones - nothing human about it whatsoever - but when played massively loud, these tones assume a scale that commands respect. They penetrate your barriers with a precision that is matched only by the cartographers of the arctic waters. In fact, Ikeda's music might make a good scientific tool in that area of research, tracing the contours of empty snowdrifts and formless lumps of ice, by sonar. While at the QEH, he displayed nifty visuals - or incredibly banal visuals, depending on how much patience you're prepared to expend. As I Recall, there were two 'modes' of visual stimulation on offer. One was a series of bands or lines moving across a huge projected computer screen, in time with the 'music'; a network of spidery digital information creating a totally abstract pattern that matched the sounds. The second visual feast was slowed-down footage of young Japanese workers in the Tokyo underground system. Whoever made this video was mainly interested in the white walls of the subway; the human beings were literally framed out of the picture. Nonetheless, they were there. It was halfway between an art installation and an advert sponsored by the airline - which in real terms is probably where Ikeda-san would like to be, both monetarily and aesthetically. The packaging of this new release is spartan - back to the basics that characterise his other release4s for the Touch label. Credited to CCI and Minitron, it's lots of tiny blue squares set in rows. Op-Art style. Inside the gatefold are number series (ones and noughts) instead of track titles, a familiar trope these days which indicates some sort of hang-up about a computer's binary data. I thought we'd all gotten over that one when absolutely nothing happened to computers on 01/01/2000, except they suddenly became more expensive. Well, that shows you how much i know. Absolutely nothing! Musically, what we got here is two 'versions' of ikeda's Matrix suite, a title that refers to the purely mathematical and to the dictionary definition of the word; matrix can mean 'a place where things or ideas are developed'. And the ideas here certainly develop - as you'll find if your memory is up to the task of tracing the changes, which is tough work. The second disc is the 'normal' version and is the more approachable of the two - it has that series of stripped-down clicks and bleeps which, on occasion, form patterns and build up to a 'funky' rhythm. There are none of the impertinent voice samples or dramatic edits which clutter up Ikeda's early work - absolutely nothing but pure electronic tones. If you think listening to this disc is murder, wait'll you try the 'Matrix for rooms' version. The high tones and bass tones are as ferocious as each other, and round here they caused every plate in the house to tremble in fear (including my dental plate, you young whippersnappers). The sounds proceed to reverberate inside your head as they slowly fill up your room. The idea is that you move around inside your dormitory while the disc is playing, thus transforming the pitches accordingly to your personal needs and desires. Not a new trick, as Charlemagne Palestine, Sachiko Matsubara and others will inform you, but still rendered extremely effectively. I'm getting fitted for the ear-trumpet tomorrow. A CD like this would make a good trap for destroying my enemies; if i could play it to them loud enough, in an underground chamber, it would shred them alive, slice by slice. There are at least three enemies at my workplace who need destroying; if anyone out there would care to join my revenge squad, please get in touch care of this magazine. [Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector]
De Japanner Ryoji Ikeda heeft sinds begin jaren negentig terecht een bijzondere plek binnen actuele elektronica verworven. Met werkstukken als het vroege 1000 Fragments (1985-1995) - een half jaar geleden opnieuw uitgebracht - ontwerpt hij composities en technieken die een brug moeten slaan tussen de techno•de clubcultuur en het sinustoonminimalisme. Het lang aangekondigde maar steeds uitgestelde Matrix bekroont met een dubbelcd de trilogie die hij startte met +/- (1996) - een schot in de roos waar hij prompt de gegeerde en ondertussen ook gecontesteerde ostenrijkse Prix Ars Electronica mee ving - en vervolgde met zero degrees (1998). Opnieuw verkeert de klanktechnicus voor theater (bij de dansers van Dumb Type), componist, muzikant, deejay en beeldend kunstenaar (met de Japanse vormgeversgroep CCI maakte hij werken voor onder andere Sonic Boom in de Londense Hayward Gallery) in topvorm. Opgevat als een dubbelluik, valt Matrix uiteen in matrix (for rooms) en .matrix, netjes over twee schijfjes gespreid - een techniek die eerder werd toegepast op Time/Space (1998). matrix (for rooms) gaat het verder in de exploratie van de relatie ruimte-geluid die Ikeda zo boeit. In een begeleidende tekst duidt hij dat werkstuk als een onzichtbaar patroon dat de ruimte vult en zichzelf transformeert en vormt, afhankelijk van de positie van de luisteraar in de kamer. En die nogal abstracte omschrijving blijkt bij beluistering te kloppen. Opgesplitst in tien delen (naam gegeven in binaire cijfercombinaties tussen 0000000001 en 1000000000) lijken de tegen de grens van het ultrasone zwevende geluiden van matrix (for rooms) te functioneren als een radar in de kamer. De aftastende kracht van het vibrerende geluid zorgt ervoor dat je als luisteraar soms de fysieke ervaring van duizeligheid of het verlies van evenwicht ondergaat. Het tweede deel .matrix pakt het helemaal anders aan, al vertrekt Ikeda van hetzelfde ultrasone startpunt. Rond een sinustoon construeert de Japanner een patroon van cracks, clicks en plops die halfweg .matrix cumuleren in een strakke funky ritmiek en vervolgens weer worden neergelegd. Met Matrix sluit Ikeda zeer geslaagd zijn trilogie rond ultrasone klanken af. En opnieuw toont hij - tot in de vormgeving van de hoes - zijn nauwe band met wiskunde en binaire codes. Benieuwd of de man opnieuw een dermate gelaagd onderzoek van een sonoor thema zal aanvatten. (Ive Stevenheydens, tijd cultuur, Belgium)
Ryoji Ikeda has all the tones in the world to work with and utilizes them sparingly. The liner notes refer to a spacial functionality at work here - apparently ::Matrix is specifically designed to work within a space, supplying sounds that can be appreciated from different points within a room or in motion from point to point. After several listens I've some to a more simpleminded understanding of the album. The first disc contains extended, slower developing tones while the second has particular, discrete sounds that come pretty close to being syncopated and somewhat melodic. Pulse, grit, hiss, and hum are all worked together in a careful balance. There are moments that inspire toe tapping (mostly on the second side) and there are moments that will clear out your sinuses. It works well - either disc holds up on its own merits and the second especially reminds me of +/-, the album that first convinced me of Ryoji Ikeda's special place in the world. For a lot of folks this may seem nothing less than noise and less than music as well. Ryoji Ikeda exposes the building blocks of what he does and the effect is sort of like seeing the frame of a house standing in mid air. But you have to imagine a ceiling floating in air without any connection to the ground to get the full effect of what is sonically achieved here. (Bruce Adams, Your Flesh, USA)
Some records are designed to provide a peculiar listening experience. You won't listen to Matrix very often (at least not the first CD - chances are you'll listen to it only once), but you might be glad you did. Disc one contains "Matrix (For Rooms)," a 60-minute piece. The concept is simple: the two stereo channels are completely separated, each one emitting a different frequency. They start in almost-unison and develop on top of each other. These frequencies are designed to fill the listening room with sound waves and the listener is invited to create his own music by moving into the room, especially by shifting the position of his head, changing the balance between frequencies, and thus altering the sound he hears. Simply put: Since the soundwaves overlap differently at any two points of the room, if four people are in the room, each one hears different music. Listening to "Matrix (For Rooms)" with headphones would strip it of any meaning. But it is perfect for tai chi exercises and avant-garde dancers might find something very stimulating here. Disc two contains ".Matrix," a 31-minute piece. More conventional in the fact that stereo channels are not isolated, this is an avant-garde electronic piece. A light low-frequency pulse gives it structure while pure tones bounce from left to right. Each one of the ten sections is different from the previous: tempos and rhythm structures change, although tone colors remain quite the same. The whole thing feels very dry and the hypnotic stereo games and pure electronic tones can even have a sickening effect on the listener. Matrix is extreme conceptual music, something that is better experienced in a large hall than in your living room, but curious minds might want to try it. (Francois Couture, AMG)
"Matrix" on Touch <www.touch.demon.co.uk> is a meditative series double CD that works with tones. It almost works like a homing device or a device that allows sound [oto] to identify space. It works the way Aube does with mounting waves of logarithmic tympanic dishevelment and a condition that can only be described as diuretic and constitutionally destabilizing. I mean this material just sits inside and plays with your marrow. The Japanese contemporary tone musicians have an incredible ability to find beauty in austere zen-like self-restraint. I see Ryogi, as a child, playing those early stereophonic tone/frequency test records and then finding the same sounds on an African thumb piano. Somehow, my brainwaves start to synchronize with these pure tones and I find the compositions not only meditative but clarifying - like a squeegy cleaning the forebrain's windshield. (Wreck This Mess, Amsterdam)
The New York Times (USA):
The Japanese Composer Ryoji Ikeda uses the humblest scraps of electronic communication to cobble together his music: a tiny, narrow pop, like a single particle of radio static; a fax-connection screech; a bell-tone as soft as a feather against the eardrum; a drum-machine beat slammed up to super-speed, making a short, single block of noises, and a CD player skimming across a selection, catching glimpses of a song. It's not ambient music; there are no long, enveloping tones. And its not dance music, because some selections have as much as five seconds of silence between each sound. But there's always a building narrative to these pieces. They get longer as the disk goes on, and the listener grows increasingly comfortable with Mr. Ikeda's strategies: but by bit, the composer reveals his logic. And in his own oblique way, he's dramatic. You either love Mr. Ikeda or you hate him; his art elicits the same reaction as Ad Reinhardt's black-on-black paintings - either a dismissive I-could-do-that or awed admiration.
VITAL (The Netherlands)
New music by Mr Ikeda is always bound to attract attention, and his stuff has been included on a number of compilations since his amazing '+/-' CD on this same label, which included sounds which were only apparent after they had stopped playing. I did not spend much time listening to '1000 Fragments', and in fact do not remember it. So there. Now to this - a less-than forty minutes CD (well I honestly didn't try rewinding past Track 1 this time), split into two parts, the first of which consists primarily of a bunch of very short tracks of sample manipulations: the lengths of loops are changed on the fly and spun through orchestral samples, possibly in real time; blips and bleeps and broken beats dodge around each other like suffocating beasts in an overcrowded space. There are two longer tracks in the first part of this CD, 'continuum' and 'coda', which (like the remaining three pieces which comprise part 2) sound far too much like Mika Vainio's solo excursions. They are slow shifting plateaus of sound which serve well as launching pads. These pieces are also strongly reminiscent of the music on '+/-', which remains my fave rave from this whizzkid.
PS. Uncle Staalplaat will also be releasing some music (including an excellent 'Mort Aux Vaches' session) by Mr Ikeda later this year. Wotch dis space...(MP)
The Wire (UK):
The latest from Ryoji Ikeda is a departure from the driven-snow, sine tone Minimalism of last years hugely impressive +/-. There's more variety on 0°C, for a start, with the clicks and bleeps augmented by samples and a tendency for harsher sounds. Unfortunately, in this case more definitely amounts to less. The voice and violin samples, and the speeded up and treated breakbeats are of a very different conceptual bent to the purity and simplicity of the +/- material. Only a couple of tracks - "continuum" and "coda", in the ten part series "C" - get near that pared down ethos. More involving is the three part "O", the CD's terrific last piece, where Ikeda builds a percussion track around a drill sound, hiss and sine tones. Their subtle modulations are far more rewarding than the rougher noise games that preceded them. Ikeda may be making a virtue of impurity, but O°C is disappointingly diffuse. [Will Montgomery]
New Powers (Canada):
Follow up to critically acclaimed +/- . Test tones, digital fizz, minimal rhythmic sections. Technical digitaria at its finest!
As the title may suggest, 0°C is a sonic exploration at a very bottom of human perception - the fragile line between life and death, dark and light, noise and silence. The authentic being is never to be achieved with complete and definitive perception of the universe - the limited human is just negligible drop somewhere between infinity and nonentity. There is no fulcrum for pretentious awareness and peace for one's arrogant mind - obscurity, uncertainty and hesitation are the only true man's satellites all along his lifeway. The limit of minimal 0°C is never to be overstepped, nomatter what labels might be attached at - noise, ambient of techno. 10/10
These Records Mail Order Catalogue (UK):
More cut-up and disparate than its predecessor, with sample, glitch and fizz in evidence, interspersed with his trademark test-tone studies and minimal rhythms. Inhumanly technical digitaria at its finest.
Though I never did get a chance to listen to the classic +/-, nor do I consider myself much of a noise connoseur (sic), I can appreciate Ryoji Ikeda's 2nd Touch release, 0 degrees C. Adding a mathematical approach and a degree of rampancy to the genre, Ikeda's noise is consistently fascinating. From track one, the listener is treated to a complex collage of tones, clicks and white noise (sounds that appear deceptively random at first hearing), sprinkled with unusual bits of found sound and, many times, a rhythmic pulse. The latter is especially evident on the last three tracks (Zero Degress 1-3), where Ikeda's explorations of tonal minimalism rivals those of Panasonic.
Ryoji Ikeda is back with his follow up to his +/-, this one is called OC or Zero degrees centigrade? Minimal reverb,minimal samples. Full of beating, beeping, ticking, ambient moments that give way to thumping electronics. A truly gifted use of silence and hard edged electronics. His last cd made Juxtaposition Ezine's Notable releases of 1997. "Sine tone madness. Extreme beep music. Really high notes. Really low notes. Really cool too. I love it. Zen techno rock garden of boops and drones. Sort of like a friendly MRI.
Your Flesh (USA):
Ryoji Ikeda's work came to my attention recently through ther excellent +/- CD. He works in what might be called minimal techno, although the presence of beats and/or rhythms is often absent. The basic building blocks are pure electronic tone. Anybody sympathetic to Bernhard Günter, Oval or Pan Sonic should check this stuff out. 0¼C is significantly jumpier and more random than +/- in parts. The beginning track features a series of skipping tones, blurts, and beeps. "C6: Counterpoint" works in an actual rhtyhm, "Co Coda" ends the "C" series with a slowly building piece. The second series of tracks, called "Zero Degrees" were recorded in 1998 and aren't as jittery as the first. By the final track, a rhythm emerges from the frosty tones and the hiss and hum forms into what might possibly be a recognizable song. Ryoji Ikeda is working in a way that not only prompts the listener to contemplate what sounds constitute music, but how the arrangement of sounds work to that effect. This is music stripped of all the conventions of the dancefloor, reduced to very simple elements and then put together in a way that hints at what we call the song. It certainly is as likely to bewilder your average rave monkey as indie rocker. (Bruce Adams)
Art Zero (France):
Membre et producteur du collectif Dumb Type, cet electronicien suit une trace ambient-minimal pour une electronica avant-gardiste parfois aride. On pense a Scanner, Oval, Microstaria, Riou Tomita et a toute l'ecole Ash, comme Disinformation. C'est aussi une musique empreinte dune purete zen qui utilise souvent les infrabasses, un peu comme ISO, ou Sachiko M. Plus tourne vers loccident que vers son pays dorigine, Ikeda est ainsi tres reconnu sur les scenes new electronica actuelles. Sur 0°C sa traversee climatique et electronique vire parfois au cut-up sonore japanoise, mais il sait toutefois se garder d'une repetitivite ennuyeuse par l'incursions subtiles de differences iteratives, de collages incongrus. Cela peut ressembler parfois aux passages les plus bruitistes du Revolutionary Pekinese Opera de Otomo Yoshihide, tout en gardant une trace minimale constante. Derriere une pochette epuree et vide se cache un album sature d'informations et de donnees exterieures, dans la droite lignee des ecoles Japanoise. Jerome Schmidt
Side Line (Belgium):
Third cd for this artist whose work is mainly dedicated to specialists. The cd is divided into two parts. C was realized in 1997/8 and contains 10 sequences that stand for deep sound explorations: frequencies, beats, Morse, all these are combined to give a very amazing result. The second part, 0C, was realized in 1998 and features three sequences. These have more to do with an exploration of perception through sounds evolutions (sic). As I said before, this is not a work for all of you. This kind of release dealing with sounds research is really dedicated to a well-informed audience. (DS: 7/10)
The Wire (UK):
"You can't have missed it: some of the wildest possible music is coming out of Japan right now. Ryoji Ikeda may lack the junkyard neuropathology of Merzbow, the conceptual single-mindedness of Aube, or the shooting star desolation of Keiji Haino, but despite his absolute reliance on electronics, this is one musician willing to dive completely off the edge of the map. Previous Ikeda releases, on his own CCI Recordings label and on several compilations, have seen him move from media collage to an interest in the noise that surrounds those signals. + / - continues the move to a music that relies entirely on buzzes, crackles and test tones. The opening "Headphonics" is an absolutely indespensible bridge between sinetone minimalism and Panasonic-style modernist techno, with Ikeda's peeps, clicks and pure tones organised rhythmically to disprove the theory that Techno-bleepery had gone as far as it could. The 50 minute headliner, "+ / -", makes an even more convincing push towards terra incognita. It opens with three tracks of jittery machine-rhythm, dropping any pretence of danceability in favour of a more disruptive aesthetic. These are followed by three drone tracks (some with added bleeps), which displays Ikeda's usual love of Zen minimalism, an echo of the unassuming ethic of non-interference that inspired Alvin Lucier's experiments with Minimalist electronics. These are more complex than the imperceptibility fluctuating sine tones that filled previous Ikeda releases. If anything, too much happens. Ultimately Ikeda seems to be encompassing Stockhausen's insight that rhythms and frequencies are just the same thing perceived at very different speeds." (Brian Duguid) New Powers (Canada):
"due Nov 11th 10 trax, 62m Very good release from Japanese experimenter who has a CD on CCI label and was featured on the Fault In The Nothing compilation from Ash International. Features 2 sections: "Headphonics" 1-3 minimal beeps and pulses that is a kind of subtle avant-techno. The third part features bleeps and held tones like Riou Tomita. Also "+ / -" 6 parts: mechanical beat like a small engine with occasional interuptions. Track 7 "-" & 9 "-.." are oscillating drones (each channel is different) that remind of Eliane Radigue. The 2nd piece "has a particular sonority whose quality is determined by one's listening point in relation to the loudspeakers. Furthermore, the listener can experience a particular difference between speaker playback and headphone listening. The sound signals can be through of in the same way as light is made spotlight. Lastly, a high frequency sound is used that the listener becomes aware of only upon its disappearance." REMIX (Japan):
"The new release from Ryoji Ikeda comes out from TOUCH, which has been continuing a series of very excellant CDs. Just like his last release that caused a world-wide great sensation, from this CD which is designed with thorough stoicisms, sharp sound, which is free from freindliness as well as the design and seems as if it broke through into a new dimension, having an influence on the present scene of electro-acoustic which cannot be reached by a mere unconsciousness or strategy, comes directly to our auditory senses. Two aspects are included in this CD, and both of them excel the sound of Panasonic and PITA, and are highly mathematical, we can declare not only compositions but also tones are perfect. We should listen to this with headphone. It will not long before his new CD is released. When I listen to his works, I feel as if I was made to realise the most positive aspect of being intelligent in playing and listening to music." (Atushi Sasaki/ trans. Koji Marutani) Sound & Recording (Japan):
"Ryoji Ikeda, an Electro-accoustic musician, is noted for the production of various compilation CDs and his collaboration with Dumb type besides his own activity. He released his second solo CD on TOUCH in London. His talent for producing a vital beat by transfering non-organic sound fragments into his unique sound combination is second to none and it makes me convinced that he is appreciated more abroad than in Japan. I hope this CD will be enjoyed by more and more Japanese listeners." Studio Voice (Japan):
"The second solo CD of Ryoji Ikeda who has established his position in the mineral accoustic scene (eh? - ed.) is released from TOUCH in London. The sound is just as you imagine from the cover design, composed of digital sound which is as if it were tick-tuck and morse code and linear thin sound without any high or low tone. However, this is not an enumeration of sound materials at all, but there are a great number of images in the subtle differences of sound." KALX Radio, USA:
"Hi, there. I spoke recently with the fellow from Dutch East India who so kindly sent us some of your recent releases, but I wanted to share with you my experiences with the "+ / -" album... I just got it out for the DJs to play this week, and while several people were in my office, I played the last track (#10) on the boom box for them. Cringe-o-rama. It was a lot of fun. I can hardly wait to play the disc on our "INFORMATION OVERLOAD" show for the "difficult listening" crowd. Thanks. PS: are there any unwelcome physiological effects to that record that I, or the University's lawyers, should know about?"