Taku Unami/Takahiro Kawaguchi - Teatro Assente (lossless)
Lossless AIFF (16bit/44.1kHz)
A minimal theater in sound from Taku Unami and Takahiro Kawaguchi and starring Yoko Chosakabe and Kumio Kurachi, recording at the Ueno Okura Theater Older Building.
For CD format, go to this page.
1. she walked into a room, and found her absence. (5:47)
2. her cellphone rang while she was watching the blank screen of the theater. (11:45)
3. she entered the theater and took her seat, 5 times at the same time (beep on her appearance and disappearance). (1:17)
4. she left her seat and walked out, 5 times at the same time (beep on her appearance and disappearance). (1:16)
5. knocking by anybody of nowhere (dub mix) (10:00)
6. clockwork society transformed into tropical rain forest, however, nothing was changed. (2:57)
7. a metal object colored with green. after a while, with green and black. (8:33)
8. Teatro Assente (23:30)
(released August 26, 2011)
recorded on 16 December 2010 at Ueno Okura Theater Older Building
photography by Akiko Ashizawa
design by Takahiro Kawaguchi and Yuko Zama
Tiny Mix Tapes, Matthew Horne
When listening to a record on which Taku Unami performs, there’s a temptation to get lost in its empirical reality. Not in its sounds, per se, but in the methods through which they are generated, and doubly so with Takahiro Kawaguchi on Teatro Assente. This album, in the spirit of last year’s motubachii (Annette Krebs and Taku Unami; on Erstwhile), is a black box; sounds are abundant and varied, at times familiar and placable, but the listener really has no clue from whom or what many originate. And Taku et al. have no intentions of revealing their sources; in fact, this ambiguity (and the listener’s affectation thereof) is a principle component of their aesthetic.
The listener is presented with two possibilities to confront this exuberant confusion. The first is to dissect Teatro Assente’s innards, to contextualize the uncredited, to search for Takahiro and Taku’s meaning and intent. Surely that is a rewarding experience; it can be a delight to realize which clicks are from a metronome and which are from thrown cardboard boxes or to discern the juxtaposition of a cell phone’s vibrations against a helicopter’s howl. It’s especially satisfying to uncover a narrative amid the album’s uncertainty: one could interpret the dynamic between Unami’s obfuscated everyday, non-musical objects and Kawaguchi’s cinematic sources as a dialectic beyond the liberation of sound from idiom, instead placing it as a transferable, universal phenomena (similar observations have been made about motubachii).
Or we can forego the analytic approach altogether. Having observed the performer’s reticence to provide technical information, our episteme is really constructed only through what is given: the album’s art, its peculiar track titles, and its assembled sounds. Here, Teatro Assente exists only in totality, so any exploration of its micro-phenomena is not only fruitless, but irrelevant. In this mode of listening, the question of meaning is reduced to a tautology; she either is ignoring intent or has already taken the prior that Kawaguchi and Unami’s thrust was fully given.
In fact, when no longer listening to “figure things out,” Teatro Assente’s gorgeous self is fully realized. Every crevice, its silences as well as its metal riffs, seem timeless. The room is filled by its contours, conjuring not just the view whence it was recorded, but how it felt, smelled. The packaging of Teatro Assente is covered with photographs of Ueno Okura Theater in Tokyo, the space in which this album was recorded. These images were taken by Akiko Ashizawa (Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s current cinematographer), providing an adequate glance into the session’s geography. The lighting and its refraction off of scraped metal perfectly contextualizes the ghastly physicality of Teatro Assente while also complementing the album’s devilish humor.
Surely Teatro Assente is serious music, but the way in which it is presented — from its neighboring seamless and jarring transitions to its reclusive demeanor — hints at a sort of playfulness. And, as such, Teatro Assente is endearing and provoking, but most of all, endlessly pleasing.
Just Outside, Brian Olewnick
I'm not sure if it was beneficial or detrimental, in terms of assessing this recording, to have, between initial hearing and the present day, seen both Unami and Kawaguchi perform at AMPLIFY:stones. Unami performed six times, I believe and Kawaguchi several times during the final two days at Issue Project Room. Of course, it was clear from the get go that, with "Teatro Assente", you were witness to an extra-musical performance of some kind, whether assembled at a later date or presented almost as an aural byproduct of what transpired at the theater in question (said establishment formerly showcasing soft-core or "pink films" as they were known in Japan). One certainly had to engage in some level of visual imagination just as, at September's festival, one had to watch the proceedings; indeed, there was often more to watch than to listen to.
So what to make of it? Let me say first that, overall, I found it a very rewarding experience, though the hows and whys of that remain elusive. I had a similar reaction to most of Unami's events during AMPLIFY, more so, admittedly when the semi-narrative structure of the boxes and the tension they generated between co-performer and audience was in effect. You're able to draw immediate parallels between elements of those sets and what appears here on disc, notably the frequent footfalls and, of course, the tumbling of raw materials, cardboard, metal or otherwise.
Those footsteps, and the mental image you tend to retain of a darkened theater, impart a slightly noirish aspect to the set; the activities have a threatening aspect to them again, reflected in part in live experience by the uncertain stability of the box structures. There's also the omnipresent sense of a large, enclosed space--the theatre--which, perhaps influenced by the photos from the case's interior, I do think of as dark, hence hear much of the activity, quiet as it is (and there's a lot of quiet), as occurring in the wings, outside the limits of my sight and eerier for that. It's oddly episodic as well, with new elements being introduced fairly late in the day like the bird sounds and, most infamously, the hardcore guitar work in track 7 which leaps in out of nowhere, grandstands, then disappears, resurfaces more than ten minutes later. Why? I've no clue.
So even with the assistance of having seen the pair in action, "Teatro Assente" is one tough nut. I enjoy it very much, more than their duo performance at issue Project, in fact, which struck me as somewhat forced at times. I'm guessing the lack of direct visual referents is a plus here, allowing me to construct mental imagery more in keeping with my own perceptions. It's easily enough appreciated purely on sonic grounds, I guess, but that strikes me as too purposefully ignoring the real goings on. I haven't come up with a scenario that's utterly wowed me, but give me time.
I'm happy "Teatro Assente" exists though, as I was happy to have experienced Unami's (and Kawaguchi's) performances last month, whether or not I thought a given one "worked". It's very healthy to have art like this out there.