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Otomo Yoshihide - The Night Before The Death Of The Sampling Virus CD (album) cover


Otomo Yoshihide



1.14 | 3 ratings

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1 stars This is not music.

I must start with aforementioned statement; this is not music. There are numerous debates and theories what music actually is - and we can define music as organised (by humans) set of sounds. In that, highly debatable, definition, this albums is certainly music. But since there is no ultimate definition of music, anyone is free to make its own definition of music and therefore to claim what is not music - there is no right or wrong. If someone could be judged by his narrow-mindedness that some extreme type of music is not music, there is no point of proving the opposite - since all the angles and aspects have their own approach. Finally, my statement of denying musical component of this work is a loose one rather than a strict one - but however, you have been warned, and there is no better and more concise expression in the same time, even if it isn't absolutely accurate, so: this is not music.

The album contains 77 (sic!) ultra-short tracks clocking between a second and half a minute, and eight tracks between a minute and two and a half minutes. The total time clocks at 53:26, but it sounds like it goes for ages, because there is no continuity - or to be more accurate, there is no continuity that an average music listener is used to. This work certainly contains continuity, theme, concept and I dare say focus as well, but I'm really suspicious by the story, if there's any. Maybe the knowledge of Japanese would help ( I caught some hints of Mandarin Chinese too), but frankly, I don't think so.

This is the exploration of the malfunction of CD player - but that exploration is executed in such an extreme, mutilated way that I wouldn't get the idea with the side notes. I appreciate the brave author and his tendency towards the extreme, but if album is to be judged by a listener who should get the impression of CD skipping in the player, then the idea failed.

The listeners is suggested to play the tracks in the shuffle mode, but again I failed to catch any recognisable pattern that could be used as an artistic statement (not necessarily musical).

The whole idea of malfunction during the reproduction process is not new in the music; CD skipping was beautifully incorporated in BALANESCU QUARTET's Luminitza, for example, not to mention the countless examples of skipping vinyl, including such a notorious pop-efforts such is QUEEN's Hot Space, to use a vulgar example. The whole album was recorded/produced on a DAT recorder, and that is obvious - because it contains only short sound slices that could be taken from TV/radio announcements or commercials, some ambient sounds and some shouts of crowd, all that with far too often and far too extreme overdubbing with bursts of white noise hissing over the undecipherable shouts. Some of those shouts (and other sounds) are looped into a rhythmical pattern, and quantised very badly, but I guess that was the intention.

The track "Nintendo" is somewhat musical, almost conventional because of melodic sequence. Some other tracks are simply replying the same samples with modulated pitch (and/or tempo), and some are abruptly utilising the milliseconds of generated silence thrown in randomly, creating the new rhythmical pattern over the original material, and that is somewhat interesting, but not enough to focus one's attention. The most polite thing I can say is: this album is perfect core fore developing an electronic album full of layered, gated samples in complex patterns. And this disc is a fine source of samples too, if you are preferring the extreme side of electronic.

To summarize, this album sounds like an electronic version of THE BEATLES Revolution 9, but without any possible improvements offered by technology.

As I said before, this is a bold statement. But it is hollow too. Maybe I will find out some unique pattern inside all this mess after repeating listenings, but I don't feel inclined to do repeat listening of this thing at first place. This record, no matter how unique might be, is suffering from syndrome so typical for many post-modernistic artworks: the root (idea) is masked by too aggressive presentation, distracting the person who is within perception of the art rather than focusing. In a word - the centre can not hold.

That being said, there are too many parameters to rate this art as "failed" rather than "good". With all the respect for the artist, despite my curiosity to check something else by him, despite the detailed and longish review, despite the fact the album made me thinking, this is poor. No further excuses. Avoid.

clarke2001 | 1/5 |


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