Éric La Casa/Taku Unami - Parazoan Mapping (lossless)
Lossless AIFF (16bit/44.1kHz)
Using "recordings" and "devices", this is the first release from the long-standing collaboration of Eric La Casa and Taku Umani, 15 untitled tracks of curious and subtly discursive sound work recorded in a diverse set of locations.
For CD format, go to this page.
(released February 14, 2015)
Éric La Casa, Taku Unami: recording devices.
recorded various locations, June 2014.
photography by Éric Coisel
design by Yuko Zama
Joshua Minsoo Kim, Tone Glow
With fifteen untitled vignettes and varying source material, Parazoan Mapping often feels like an aural scrapbook. And when looking through any scrapbook, the different photos and pieces of ephemera always point to something bigger: a sort of unraveling of the people contained within. The pictures of your family’s vacation from several years ago may not explicitly show it but you very well understand how then compares to now that feeling of joy when you conquered your first wave after hours of learning to surf? You know that same dedication has carried into your hobbies today. That picture of mom in her crazy, vibrant dress? You know that’s the same woman you continue to admire for her eccentricities. That picture with everyone eating the ice cream dad bought? You know that’s the same father who sacrificed everything to make you happy since day one. Similarly, Parazoan Mapping may seem like a random assortment of stuff on the surface but La Casa and Unami enhance our appreciation of each individual sound they trace by making known the cohesiveness that exists within the numerous aural landscapes of our everyday.
Parazoans are part of the kingdom Animalia and, when translated, literally mean “beside the animals”. Parazoan Mapping, then, feels like an apt title; it acts both as a signifier of what you’ll hear but also as a statement regarding its function and purpose. Recording from mostly familiar and recognizable settings, La Casa and Unami want us to feel the liveliness of the sounds all around us. Perhaps most exhilarating is the sound of a basketball court on tracks eight through eleven. The first two tracks highlight what’s specifically happening on that court; we’re barraged with the noise of basketballs bouncing and shoes sliding but it’s the mixing and editing here that make the intensity palpable. The thud of each basketball feels surprisingly forceful and the movement of players even becomes dizzying at one point. The following track focuses on those waiting to see the game while the track thereafter combines the two groups of people to showcase the energy radiating from inside the entire gym, both on court and in the stands.
It’s completely unrelated musically-speaking but these tracks naturally made me think of “The Courts" from Jam City’s hugely influential Classical Curves. On that track, Jack Latham utilizes the sounds you’d hear on a court (bouncing basketballs create a 4x4 beat, the sliding of shoes weave in and out) to make the stadium-ready dance number even more grandiose. It’s the relentless excitement we associate with basketball games that informs the listener and consequently makes the track so enthralling. What La Casa and Unami do here though is completely different; they’re the guides and we as listeners are invited to explore and understand what’s being heard through close inspections of an object’s timbral qualities. This participatory element isn’t particularly unique when considering these artists’ previous works but what makes this record so satisfying is that in the process of appreciating these seemingly mundane sounds, we see an apparent continuity that exists between them. The ticking on track two sounds similar to the ticking on track three, sure, but they also resemble the isolated rain drops in track five. The sound of someone chopping food with a knife is punctuated by squeaking that undoubtedly sounds like the aforementioned sounds of shoes sliding on a basketball court. And soon after, we’re hearing more quick-moving feet and balls but recontextualized on a tennis court. It’s as if La Casa and Unami are slyly winking at us, telling us that if you enjoyed any of the sounds on one of these tracks, it won’t be long before you enjoy the sounds on every one of them.
Bill Meyer, Dusted
In his review of another recent collaboration involving French sound artist Eric LaCasa, Dusted scribe Jason Bivins suggests that listening is a kind of eavesdropping. Eavesdropping is intentional overhearing, and the question of intent comes into play on Parazoan Mapping. LaCasa made it with Taku Unami, whom New Yorkers might remember as the guy at Erstwhile Records’ AMPLIFY: stones festival, whose performances involved building and toppling structures made with cardboard boxes. Why did he do that, you might ask? He never spelled out the reason, just as he and LaCasa refrain from framing this disc’s fifteen tracks with any words beyond the album’s name. Parazoa are sponges, which have structures so barely differentiated that there’s not much to map.
I doubt that LaCasa and Unami are suggesting that they are mapping something undifferentiated. Quite the opposite; from track to track, this album exposes the variety of sounds that a visitor to Tokyo might collect with a microphone and a recorder, or any other city for that matter. There is nothing about the sounds of basketballs thumping and sneakers squeaking against a gymnasium floor, or distant traffic leaking into an interior space, water running and oil bubbling in a kitchen, or household devices vibrating and machinery clattering as they operate, that seems specific to a particular country. They are very nicely registered, though, with a clarity that gives one a sense of spaciousness as well as an awareness of transpiring action.
So why have Unami and LaCasa collected these sounds, and why have they organized them in the sequence that they have? They aren’t saying. One thing you won’t hear, however, is language. Voices, when audible, are distant and indistinct. If the external cover images of abandoned cars rotting in verdant rural settings, and the interior images of a bike in wet sand and a guy crossing a putting green, are meant to be explanatory, they’re too thoroughly encrypted for this agent to decipher. And since explanatory information about LaCasa’s other recent duo project is easy to come by, the paucity of explication around this one is surely intentional.
If something unites these sounds, it is their mundanity. Parazoan Mapping comprises sounds you generally don’t think about, and while it doesn’t ask you to think anything in particular about them, it does bring them to your attention.