Tatsuro Kojima: 16g
Audiobulb Records

Like many a label, Audiobulb is devising innovative strategies to make its physical products more valuable and distinctive. In the case of Japan-based Tatsuro Kojima's 16g, that means adorning the cover of each CD release with an individual cover photograph by Kojima and including a duplicate photo within the packaging that includes a signed and personalized message from the artist. Put simply, each physical CD is unique.

Of course the release has more going for it than the presentation concept. It's very much in the tradition of delicate moodscaping of the kind we've come to expect from Japanese artists associated with Schole and other such labels. Field recordings figure prominently in the hour-long recording, while piano, vibraphone, harp, synthetic sounds, and glitchy textures recur within its eleven electroacoustic meditations, which Kojima composed between 2009 and 2011. Airy, multi-hued, and translucent by design, the settings are intricate and densely detailed affairs, comprised as they are of tinkling musical fragments and textural micro-slivers (consider the abundance of creaks and whirrs pulsing through the otherwise glimmering “Composition3” as one example of many).

“0002” establishes the relaxed tone of the album in pairing atmospheric vibes accents and drones with the crunch of footsteps trudging through snow-covered fields (a sound that re-emerges in the penultimate “043 Fredricson Mix”). The addition of Aya Fukaya's breathy voice (even if reduced to a series of wave-like stutters) to “Out Noise” lends the glitch-heavy piece a distinguishing character that separates it from the others; “0818” likewise stands out for the bright vibraphone accents that resonate alongside the track's textural interplay. The album reaches its fullest culmination in the closing piece, “Composition6,” an almost twelve-minute setting that unites the various strands of Kojima's sound world into a single, vibrant dreamscape. Text accompanying the release notes that Kojima aspired in the recording to “evoke the feel and sensation of paper-thin ice or richly-coloured, yet transparent air,” and in this regard 16g clearly succeeds.

February 2012