Floating Weeds by Ken Ikeda + Rie Nakajima + Makoto Oshiro

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Ken Ikeda + Rie Nakajima + Makoto Oshiro | Floating Weeds
901 Editions (CD/DL)

One disc, three recordings, just over one hour. These are Ken Ikeda‘s new collaborations with Rie Nakajima and Makoto Oshiro, taken from live presentations and a Resonance FM broadcast in which they incorporate: “motors, sound objects, automated gestures, mixed materials as opposed to synthesizer-generated sounds meet up, overlap and create dialogues.” Though the title has been derived from the film Ukikusa (1959) by Yasujirō Ozu it’s been broken into a trio of tracks for the season: Early Spring (Ikeda), Mid Spring (Ikeda/Nakajima) and Late Spring (Ikeda/Oshiro).

Ikeda, Nakajima (photo Hana Knizova), Oshiro

EARLY: On track one Ikeda’s solo work opens in silence, and after thirty seconds the most minimal glassy synths begin to impose themselves gently. As he weaves in a pitchy tone all is silenced. Patterns emerge and repeat, as do other synthesized electronic birds. By pairing gentle lulls with reverberations that come full frontal Ikeda finds a balance in his otherwise mottled concoction of sonic abstractions that are continually shifting. Taken apart this could likely be a collection of various scene soundtracks, but as a whole, it’s much more indicative of the live experience and of the moment. The quietest pockets inform the more warped reaches, and with each dip and retreat the composer keeps the listener engaged. Never does one fall into a sleep mode here as this has as many variables as does the season it infers, and in which we are in right now – with it’s first buds and birds, it’s light pastels and blossoming palette of greens, just emerging after a long hibernation. Ikeda gently reminds us to prepare for change, with mellow echoes and open air.

MID: Ikeda and Nakajima then create sounds that balance between a steaming kettle and the rattling of a tiny metal cage. These conjurings are like the actions of someone working on the soil in their garden, readying it for nature to envelop what’s been sown. The harmony between percussive microsounds and a wavering synth is a conversation that quickens and breaks. Far in the distance a razor like buzz quivers as mysterious mutations begin to collide within the mix. The tiny taps mirror the concave tonal flux in colorful striations that refer to 70s sci-fi and early experimental electronica. The piece is quite animated, almost kitschy – but in a similar bashful way that one sidesteps puberty. The repeating forms lead to minimal industrial impulses and eventually get lost in a tweeky set of heady effects that blare and bobble.

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LATE: And finally, closing with a half-hour long work by Ikeda and Oshiro that commences with a series of tiny tinkering. It is as if taking apart a Swiss watch without losing a second on its precise measurements of time – only adding its own quirky inflections to the ongoing mechanism. Or is this simply a mad saboteur at work? There are overlaps both conceptually and physically – as their inventive sound pairs nature and the machine together and in opposition, depending on the immediate interpretation. But theirs is a sound that doesn’t require a conclusion, as they spread this concept with an adequate digestion of time and space and the in-between. Of the three works on the recording this is the least referential to its main seasonal theme, and its most minimal and peculiar. We are waiting, anticipating. The tension is quite low, the moderate static feedback eventually leads to a flow of granular synthesis that take the form of pixelated feathered friends that take flight, and whose calls become hypnotically recycled. The unplugged feel is like an open circuit beckoning some sort of input. And once that aid and abet this urge with a wavy refrain therein lies the tension about halfway through. From there these two play ping-pong with your psyche. Like walking a tightwire.

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