Shaula: Tochka
Somehow Recordings

A good-quality set of headphones is needed if one hopes to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of Shaula's Tochka, a CD-R release issued in a micro-edition of fifty-five copies. Having earlier caught our attention with 2010's Non_rem_sleeps and the earlier 2011 release Yona, the Shirakami, Japan-based producer entrances the ears again, this time with a fifty-minute set of guitar-based moodscapes. As in those previous recordings, Shaula soothes the spirit with lulling settings of gauzy character that she crafts using guitars, piano, and electronics, though it's guitar that's at the forefront of Tochka's eight settings.

Brooding moods are established during “Dora” and “Skin” when slow drifts of treated electric guitar shadings appear within hollowed-out spheres of ambient reverberance. Shaula's is a quiet music, obviously. “Ezob” weaves delicate filigrees of acoustic guitar picking into a flickering swarm that, were it louder, would resemble an all-consuming vortex. Like a sleep-inducing lullaby, “Good Night” unfolds with controlled deliberation, rarely rising above a whisper. “Goudy Sky” is, at certain moments, even quieter and more fragile, in particular during one episode where Shaula's soft voice appears alongside the phase-shifting guitar slivers that make up the textural core of the piece. Eschewing ambient meander, Shaula lays out a given track's agenda with clarity and purpose and then pursues that agenda with an unwavering resolve. Not surprisingly, it's the longer tracks—four are in the eight- to ten-minute range—that are the most immersive, though even a four-minute setting is capable of drawing the listener into its particular orbit.

December 2011