Chib: Moco

Having already featured the extreme noise of Xinlisupreme, FatCat opens 2004 with a mini-album from another Japanese artist, Tokyo's Yukiko Chiba, that's of an entirely different character. At the risk of invoking a Japanese stereotype, Chiba's pieces are painterly and impressionistic, delicate organisms that biologically develop and mutate. Chiba uses a sampler and sequencer to construct tracks from cello, piano, guitar, keyboards, and strings samples as well as found sounds like motorcycles, voices, and bird chatter collected from restaurants, friends' houses, and the outdoors. She selectively loops these elements to build repetitive patterns on top of which she adds other textures like electronic crackles and pops for enriched colour. The result is a set of eight intricate and atmospheric sound-worlds in a musical style that's kin to Foehn's Hidden Cinema Soundtrack and Colleen's Everyone Alive Wants Answers. Chiba's hermetic pieces are more fragile, however, exuding a looser, more hand-made feel. All but one of Moco's songs are new, as “((O))” appeared on the label's 2001 collection no watches, no maps. Time hasn't diminished its charm, as its laconic see-saw melody and blurry piano lines still sound affecting in this context. A darker mood is sketched on “+,” a soundscape of groaning sounds, descending tones, and insectile chatter. “S” is evocative, too, with percussive pops of distant fireworks forming a backdrop for meandering music box melodies and melancholy strings. Moco is bookended by two strong pieces, the slow opener “Chips” and “Long.” The former splits into two halves with the first part a looped cluster made from street sounds, electric piano, cello, and a bluesy harmonica fragment and its second half dominated by plucked guitar notes and woozy keyboards. Acoustic guitars and string tones alternate on “Long” to quiet yet majestic effect, bringing the collection to a distinctive close.

February 2004