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Taku Unami - Intransigent Towards the Detectives of Capital

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Artist: Taku Unami

Album: Intransigent Towards the Detectives of Capital

Label: wmo/r

Review date: Mar. 30, 2004

A limited release CD-R, this latest dispatch from the enigmatic Taku Unami is fittingly released on laptop troublemaker Mattin’s imprint. Long associated with Tokyo’s contemporary improvising scene, and having honed his own aesthetic in the city’s ultra-quiet Off-Site improvisation meetings, Unami has released several provocative recordings on his own Hibari label (where he’s played guitar and electronics alike). On this oddly-named release, he contributes two long tracks on computer alone, each pregnant with very long silences.

As is customary with this scene, microscopic sounds and a nearly Feldmanian attention to space are key indicators of the path taken (and of those not taken, of course). On the first piece, Unami lingers long on sounds akin to muted cymbals – in between long stretches of space, the occasional metallic splash interjects. The music thus isn’t declamatory or showy in any way (it’s reserved even by this idiom’s standards), nor is it laminal (in the AMM sense), dedicated to the slow accretion and reduction of sound. Unami isn’t concerned about dynamic arcs or anything of the sort, but seems content simply to make each gesture and non-gesture atomistic and self-referential. With extreme patience, he coaxes the music into a somewhat busier space, allowing glimmers of dialogism (a glitch responding to a thud, etc.) to emerge and slowly ceding them into a drone-based construct.

The second piece features more percussive sounds. There is variety in the noises Unami summons, and he is more willing to use long tones on this piece, but the overall intent is still to avoid compositional logic or patterns. There may be a thud as something is dropped on the floor of the neighbors’ apartment, a brief hiss of steam from the ventilator, or the slow whirr of an appliance, but that’s as close as you get to an “event” or an “idea.” This is simply a soundtrack for the late nights alone in your room, listening to the world around you. It’s probably less Cagean than that sounds, but like a lot of the most provocative creations to come out of Tokyo of late, Unami seems happy to approach music as a way of posing perceptual problems than via any concern for its content. Here the question is whether decontextualized fragments or remains stripped of all references and freed from narrative flow can constitute anything akin to a form. Is that even important? Or is it inevitable that we impose form on it during our listening? Thankfully, Unami’s improvisations are also pleasant to listen to, even if they are radically stripped down.

By Jason Bivins

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