The latest release in the “exquisite corpse” that is the Laaps release schedule comes from Japanese sound artist Tomotsugu Nakamura with his fifth album “Literature”. While the first two releases in the series from The Alvaret Ensemble and FEAN where more abstract the recent duo of Danny Clay and Nakamura have continued to pursue an avant-garde approach through more conventional means. With a sneak peek of the next release from Valance Drakes just popping up on Soundcloud, there is more to explore and discover with this 100 point series.
“Tomotsugu Nakamura is a musician and graphic designer residing in Tokyo, Japan. His primary artistic practice is to compose music with some fragments of minimal acoustic and electronic tones and some field recordings. In Concert, he has played with various genre of musician such as “Musica Frontera Argentina”. Previously released on Kaico and Audiobulb Records, “literature” is his 5th complete album.”
I have listened to this album umpteenth times while doing other activities so I have absorbed some of it’s charm without fully appreciating it’s intricacies. My main take away from those “background” listens was that this album is as much about what is not there as it is that that is present. On deeper inspection that feeling remains as Nakamura shows that not every moment has to be over flowing in sounds. Indeed this album is a blissfully minimal one that in some way grabs your attention to focus on the various tones and electroacoustic sounds that make up the pieces. Guitar, Piano, wind chimes, Field Recordings and what sounds like everyday objects make up the sound sources of the pieces. In some cases music that is full of sound can be anything from uplifting to overbearing and the opposite could be said for the more minimalist of concerns. But what Nakamura is able to do is bring more out from the sounds he uses by the space that he surrounds them with.
Music can be written in the form that is most traditional with instruments arranged a certain way and in a certain order. With the pieces on “Literature” you get more of a sense of an artisan constructing something with a wide array of tools at his disposal. Musically there are elements of electronica, folk, glitch and ambient without any of the pieces really being beholden to any of those set genres. The album is a breathe of fresh air and one that is the perfect sort of release to re-set you if you are feeling like you are overwhelmed with listening to much of the same style of music.
There is a bright aura to the music which adds to the openness of it, as well as a feeling of contemplation. Nakamura manages to make the music this way without making it veer into a saccharine sounding suite. There is still a challenging aesthetic woven in like on a piece such as “Pastoral Song” and there is also the folktronica like “Copenhagen” that shows Nakamura is not adverse to a piece of loop laden beauty. Then there are the punctuating notes of “Sphere” which are so brief, but so important at setting the feel of the piece. It is these small moments that set the pieces up ever so nicely and really set the tone for each piece and the album as a whole.
There is a homespun beauty to this album which makes it so enjoyable. As much as it is challenging, it is rewarding and as much as it is minimal in approach, it is maximal in effect. “Literature” is available from July 13 on Limited Yellow vinyl (200 copies), CD (also 200 copies) and Digital. It is very much recommended.