Sunao Inami: HOW-BOW 2

From its curious album title and crude display type design to cryptic track titles like “w-org-e” and “end_w.1+,” HOW-BOW 2 doesn't make the most promising first impression. But get beyond those surface elements and you'll discover a number of engrossing forays into the dark ambient and electroacoustic drone genres. Inami uses DSP-based sound treatments to heighten the evocative character of his material, making the hydraulic clanking that appears alongside industrial churn in “w-org-e” and “yun1,” for example, as much suggestive of a steel factory in full operation as a torture chamber. Opener “w-org1” eases the listener in gently with a soothing, ten-minute boat ride through Hades (the even more tranquil “end_w.1+” eases one out in much the same way at disc's end), after which “ztoch” suggests the atmospheric rumble of phantom noises rising from the still-smoldering ruins of a bombed-out city. “canyon1” and “end-1” show Inami's considerable talent for sculpting ghostly drones of suitably cyclonic character. HOW-BOW 2 is a fine enough collection of its type but the biggest knock against the album is, predictably, length: seventy-four minutes ends up feelong overlong, especially when certain pieces—the eight-minute aqueous excursion “oct5” and nine-minute driftscape “damiana3” to name two—are twice the duration they need to be.

June 2008