Thursday, 19 March 2009

R-N065: Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen

From start to finish Insen is a journey of experimental sound bound together with the harmonies of mellow piano chords and the unique, extraordinary one time chorus of bird song.

Alva Noto has pieced together an experience of deep basses and ambient beats together with the help of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s perfected piano pièce de résistance to help elevate the listener to a higher state of consciousness throughout the forty-one minutes of listening pleasure.

The album breaks down into sections of a hypothetical journey and carries their presence in each giving the listener seven tracks of distinctive moods.

Glitches, pops and fizzes make for slow rhythmic percussion that are boosted by compressed kicks in all the right places. As samples are built up the layers are penetrated by phrasing and enveloped chords from a gate trapped grand piano.

With so many moods on this silver sliver of encrypted audio it is hard to pin point an exact feel for the music presented to us. Each section incorporates the same structure as the last but manages to distance its self completely from the previous.

Recorded in 2003 and voted “Record of the Year” 2004 in the electronica field of music by “The Wire” magazine it is easy to hear why. Starting with the first segment on the disc the journey begins with rhythmic distant fuzz that encapsulates movement from section to section in an ordered fashion.

The next passenger that boards the journey is confused and isolated from the original traveller and is a surprisingly pleasant break between its predecessor and forerunner. The sounds that are stifled still have presence but are amplified into an uplifting, almost heavenly, ambience as soon as the next track falls from the sky.

There are many warm elements that protrude from the speakers as slowly the sounds turn to face another direction and kicks into a more rhythm based familiarity that is recognised from the opening track. The rhythms produced are recognisable from day-to-day activities and slowly blend into an almost terrifying six minute array of pre-war tension.

Again we see a break appear in the clouds and the tingling sensations of phantom rain are felt as the mood changes direction one last time. There are many elements of aquatic noise that fill the mind with imagery of oceans and coastline. With the album near completion the last track is the more subtle member of the family and its progression is almost entire in its length. The imagery of ocean is returned to land via transportation of rain and warm elements, again, wash over the mind to finalise into a euphoric ending.

This epic recording takes the listener on a mellow journey of sand, sea and air without the hassle of leaving your armchair only to arrive safely back in the comfort of ones mind that each listen will produce time and again.

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