Tujiko Noriko: Blurred in My Mirror

During 2004's What Is Music? Festival, Tujiko Noriko and Lawrence English convened in a small Brisbane hotel room and, using nothing more than a microphone and laptop, initiated a recording project that would eventually become Blurred In My Mirror. The meeting was clearly productive, as four pieces emerged from that initial encounter which English later fleshed out with additional layers during the mixing phase. In 2005, the pair decided to supplement the completed songs with a further three and then package them into full-length form. While the recording is credited to Noriko only, it's clearly a collaborative project through and through: the words are Noriko's but much of the music is by English who also produces.

The album's dominated by two styles: hallucinatory meditations, which distance with their relative cool yet still fascinate for their compelling arrangements, and conventional song constructions that are more inviting and accessible by comparison. A strong exemplar of the first type, “Niagara Hospital” entrancingly weaves Noriko's Japanese singing and spoken word narration into a dissonant array of marimba, vibes, bass pounds, dark piano chords, and supple electronic textures. Elsewhere, Benjamin Thompson's phantom sax lines and acoustic guitar strums and John Chantler's drum shadings enhance the free-floating “I'm Not Dreaming, King”; Thompson also adds fuzzy electric blur to the insectoid textures of “Switch of the Sun in You.” In the second group, “Shayou (Setting Sun)” unites exuberant pulses and sunkissed electronics with Noriko's relaxed delivery to gorgeous effect. Best of all, though: the hypnotic trip-hop of “Tablet for Memory” which presents Noriko's singing at its most emotionally affecting, and couches it in an aquatic sea of dreamy textures and loping rhythms. Blurred In My Mirror proffers a compelling portrait of the Japanese avant-pop songstress, with the focus alternating between beguiling chanteuse and bold experimentalist throughout. While the compositions are exotic and evocative, the album's twin peaks remain Noriko's arresting voice and the songs' rich textures.

November 2005