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Onna Kodomo - Hypnosis

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Artist: Onna Kodomo

Album: Hypnosis

Label: self-released

Review date: Sep. 11, 2003

Small, Dark Sounds

This aptly-titled CD-R is the latest from Yokohama, Japan's Yuko Hasegawa, who has released a small series of albums over the years as Onna Kodomo ("woman child" loosely translated). As before, Hypnosis is mostly bass and voice, though some guitar is apparently included this time around. Not that you'd know it without being told.

Slow, utterly atmospheric swellings of bass punctuate near-silence, as Hasegawa's delicate, wordless vocals rise out of the depths of reverb like ghost signals. Small sounds murmur here and there, but the moaning bass, akin to a lighthouse in the fog, anchors this music, however tenuously, to the here and now. The vocals hover up above, sometimes in multiple lines overdubbed atop each other but more often as a single voice alone against the emptiness.

The definition of ambient includes "surrounding, encircling" – that might work here, certainly, but it's not quite right. Atmospheric, as in "resembling or representing the atmosphere; having or giving the effect of translucence" – now that's much closer. There is something about this music that gives it presence while allowing other things to pass through it.

Ambience and atmospherics has made its way out of the New Age ghetto and has infiltrated everything from pop (see Olivia Tremor Control) to metal (see Burzum or Mortiis). Drifting, deep sounds can say a lot more than just "relax.” In fact, they can urge quite the opposite.

In the final analysis, this is quite simply an hour of undeniably beautiful, haunting music, and it's remarkable that the simple recipe of bass swells and wordless vocals never touches on boring throughout the single, hour-long track. Putting this on at night and lying down will undoubtedly result in some interesting journeys.

This self-released album will undoubtedly be difficult to find, so I urge interested parties to contact the artist directly at marimo_onna@jp-t.ne.jp and inquire.

By Mason Jones

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