Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
An unusual, but wonderful sonic experience
Steward Willons | Illinois | 07/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ryoji Ikeda is frequently referred to as a "sound artist", as opposed to a composer. This, more than anything else, gives a clear indication of how we hear his music. It's so far removed from the tradition of Bach and Beethoven that we scarcely recognize it as music. In fact, to some listeners, it won't be music at all - merely excruciating noise akin to nails on a chalk board. To others, Ikeda's music is filled with mysteries and an invigorating experimental sensibility that excites the listener as he or she ponders the wonder of how far music has come. That is, of course, not to suggest that Ikeda's music is to the far right of some non-existant teleological musical progression. What it does represent is the possibilities of how far the creative mind can stretch the boundaries of music.
"Dataplex" consists of many short tracks featuring mostly pure sine waves at the upper and lower threshold of human hearing. To be fair, this may easily annoy even the most courageous listeners, as it is akin to having a hearing test, but through regular speakers at regular listening levels. The sound is untarnished by reverb and other effects and thus has a piercing immediacy. One could be the most open-minded listen and still find this music grating.
However, one could just as easily find the music fascinating. The use of clear, steady sine waves as the primary building blocks gives the listener an unusual perspective. We frequently listen to sounds so heavily processed that it's impossible to tell how they were made, unless you happen to know the ins and outs of electronic sound synthesis. In Ikeda's music, we can easily detect how the sounds are assembled. Techniques that are typically imperceptible to us, such as modulation synthesis, are performed in such a way that they themselves become musical ideas, not merely techniques for producing sounds for realizing musical ideas.
There are 19 tracks in clusters delineated by suffix. The first ends in "ex" (e.g. index, duplex, triplex, complex) and consists mainly of low frequency drones with intricately programmed high-frequency rhythms. Next times a pair of tracks ending in "helix" that deal with a new sound set and an increased tempo. There are a few more, which follow the pattern of increasing complexity.
Once again, this CD cannot be classified as anything but difficult listening. It's certainly not for everyone's taste. I suppose it's safe to recommend to any fan of Mika Vainio or Alva Noto, since they sometimes work in this domain. My hope is that my description above will generate interest in the ideas behind the sounds (or music) and help new listeners hear it with some frame of reference. Those looking for something truly different will surely find it in Ryoji Ikeda."
Great - for a very specialized audience
Louis | San Francisco, US, Canada | 05/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most people don't prefer to listen to modulated electronic noise as music. If you do, this is masterly stuff. A few of the tracks are quite amusing. IF you are open to electronic noise as music."