ABOVE BOARD: Out on July the 6th is the latest from Tokyo’s no-input mixing board player, Toshimaru Nakamura. The record is Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) and it’s his tenth solo album. The eight tracks locked in here are sequential, NIMB 51 through NIMB 58. As he sits behind his prime instrument he helps us to better understand the purity behind simply twisting knobs and wielding wires just so. For starters the unsettled crumbly electronics enter instantly. The earthy crackle is muffled by layered manipulations at the mixing board. It pulses in a quasi dubby frenzy that at times is animated, and elsewhere a bit random and anxious.
The artist shows his range on an ambient treatment seemingly exhumed on NIMB 53, and the track is something on par with the softer side of say Robert Henke (Monolake). The hollow dislocated feel is a working experiment that pays off. The especially obscure thing going on here is that his ‘instrument’ is the midwife of the process, the board itself – so knowing there are no-inputs, no guitar or synth, how in the heck does this man conjure such baffling musicality with a sense of minimalism and precision? Well, he is obviously working with electronics in a fresh new way, in the way turntablists like Philip Jeck, Janek Schaefer and countless Detroit house kids have been since the early 00’s. Nakamura, who has been at the board for over two decades, accomplishes this by inverting a vacuum/siphon sound he develops a contorted drone wall of sound.
He manhandles feedback, shaping the detritus of hiss, crackle and pop with an unexplored finesse. It’s like some weird marriage of Autechre and Christian Marclay with his secret twist. This is one of those recordings that makes me crack a cheshire smile in the artist’s honor. Buzzing flares of feedback are perfectly contained in repetition on NIMB 55, in what could only be referred to as sound sculpture. He wields the mixing board the way some dark metal dude jams freely to an all black-clad audience in a Midwestern skank club with no A/C. The range is never too voluminous, but the range is diverse, in fact some of his most unusual moments are the purring quiet of the ultra short/sweet NIMB 56 and NIMB 57, something clearly wicked from another universe this way comes.
BEYOND BOARD: The otherwise untitled tracks lend a certain anonymity that allows for full creative control with conceptual bounds, or reverse that and read that back through a mirror. On the final track NIMB 58, he starts with what sounds like basis microstatic of a nearby input contact being played without penetration. The source is open, and the signal is being processed in minimal short flickers while a floating drone is layered in the background as if it were torn from a cinematic thriller. The layers open and shift some, becoming more bare with some echo until it sputters from earshot like a cicada awoken by the early birds.