Records of the Week

 Ryoji Ikeda „Ultratronics“ / Kali Malone „Does Spring Hide Its Joy“


 Ryoji Ikeda

Born in 1966 in the small Japanese town of Gifu, artist and composer Ryoji made his debut between 1995 and 1998 with three works that have retrospectively been classified as epochal: “1000 Fragments” (CCI Recordings) “+/-” and “0°” (both on Touch). The start of an artistic biography that has been flawlessly practiced to this day, in the course of which Ikeda not only knew how to position himself as an exceptional producer of electronic music in the field of tension between academic discourse and experimental sound research, but also as an artist of immense curiosity who experimented performatively with light, video and spatial installations and meticulousness.

If you now listen to “Ultratronics”, the eighteenth album by Ikeda, you will be amazed at the still palpable urgency with which he pursues his ambitious sound experiments, especially in view of his almost thirty-year career. According to the liner notes, some of the sound material on “Ultratronics” was originally recorded between 1989 and 1999 and is brought into a surprising dialogue by adding compositions created in the last decade. Musically speaking, this ensures a sound journey from minimalistic-abstract opening pieces to amazingly industrial-sounding, almost psychedelic pieces to compositions trained in ambient and back to the minimalistic origins; Ikeda’s mathematical experimental arrangements are always central, and he always succeeds in breaking abstraction with feelings, be it by means of anachronistic computer voices or simply astonishingly exhibited drastic performance.

Kali Malone (feat. Stephen O´Malley & Lucy Railton)
„Does Spring Hide Its Joy“
(Ideologic Organ / Secretly Canadian)

The Swedish composer and musician Kali Malone has experienced an immense surge in popularity over the past two years, not least because of her enigmatic live performances, in which she manages to magnetically attract the attention of all audience members, although ultimately there is little more happening than minimal redefining the sound on the equipment lined up in front of her.

“Does Spring Hide Its Joy” was created in cooperation with Malone’s artistic and private partner Stephen O’Malley and cellist Lucy Railton. Together, the three artists have succeeded in creating a fascinating work that meanders in itself, the special appeal of which lies in the antipodal combination of clearly set sound intonations and (apparently) randomly intervening frequency sounds (with effects). While Malone’s minimalistic compositions on the two previous albums “The Sacrificial Code” and “Living Torch” were more clearly readable as reduced organ works, this clarity increasingly dissolves in a kind of black sound hole, congenially supported by the almost classically distorted SUNN O) )) guitar by O’Malley, which can hardly be surpassed in terms of milling viscosity, and the cello played by Railton, vibrating weirdly between rhythmically and unrhythmically.

“Does Spring Hide Its Joy” invites you to keep all your senses in focus, but at the same time puts the listener in an unexpectedly drastic state of contemplative relaxation – the author of this review for example, entered at a performance four months ago (as part of the Unsound Festival in Kraków, Poland) hypnotized a kind of in-between realm, from which he woke up wide awake and yet confused after a few seconds (or was it minutes or even hours?). What more could one expect from music than the dissolution of one’s own time-space coordinates?
Thomas Venker

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