Toshiya Tsunoda/Taku Unami - Wovenland (CD)
The liner notes give good detail to each composition from these Japanese sound artists and composers Toshiya Tsunoda and Taku Unami, reworking and transforming field recordings from a diverse set of environmental locations by changing pitch, playback speeds, frequency, amplitude, &., creating 11 compositions, imbuing the mundane with unusual and surprising aural attributes. Six-panel digipak.
For lossless (16/44) files, go to this page.
1. The farthest land #1 (Inzai, Chiba) (10:00)
2. Park cleaning / Crickets chirping (2:53)
3. In the park (2:14)
4. In the city, fire sirens (13:48)
5. The farthest land #2 (Higashimurayama, Tokyo) (5:00)
6. Crickets chirping - Water fountain in a park (1:10)
7. Parking lot for bicycles / The library (6:00)
8. Shorefront of a lake / Commercial space (3:00)
9. In a farmland (4:02)
10. From the rooftop, railway terminal station (0:44)
11. The farthest land #3 (Inzai, Chiba) (10:00)
(released March 27, 2018)
ecorded and edited by Toshiya Tsunoda and Taku Unami
max program by Taku Unami
mastered by Taku Unami
produced by Jon Abbey and Yuko Zama
design by Yuko Zama
My collaboration album with Taku Unami, Wovenland, is truly experimental. Recording of physical vibrations is more radical than that of musical instruments and electronic sounds. For this album, we decided to weave a world by letting different sound sources interact, like hitting against each other. It means that we tried to re-weave the normal stereo sounds into a new form. So the title is Wovenland, a world which was woven.
Track 1 is The Farthest Land #1. We overlaid two sound sources that were recorded separately by two of us, with a long distance between the locations. So it created a bit unnatural feel of distance in the recorded sounds. In fact, we were surprised to know that it turned out to be more dramatic than we expected, which was totally beyond our intention. We recommend you to listen to it with headphones.
Track 2 is Park Cleaning / Crickets Chirping, in which the sound of two park cleaners who were cleaning the part with brooms and the quiet sound of the chirps of crickets are crashed against each other. We set the volume of the cleaners not to exceed a certain level by programming. When the volume of the cleaners fell below a certain level, the sound source was switched to the chirps of crickets. These two sound sources were not blended. Taku Unami did the max programming.
Track 3 is In The Park, in which small fragments of silences were inserted in between noises of the park in Nakano. We would like you to listen to the consecutive feel of the stereo which emerged from the sounds in chopped up pieces.
Track 4 is In The City, Fire Sirens. We changed the playback speed of the fire sirens that we recorded in the city to 8.5 % (normal speed is 100%). You will hear some chirps of birds toward the end.
Track 5 is The Farthest Land #2. We wanted to record the sounds of the farthest land in this track. The farthest land could be anywhere, so we did recording at a terminal station of a local railway. This track was recorded as false stereo using reversed-phase signals of the sound sources, just like Track 1.
Track 6, Crickets Chirping - Water Fountain In A Park, is the most interesting piece for me. Taku Unami did the max programming. In this piece, we controlled the amplitude and the frequencies of the recordings of the crickets near the water fountain in the park in Nakano. The sounds of the water fountain are hidden. What you hear is the chirps of the crickets, but you can also hear the sounds of the water fountain area, since the chirps of the crickets change according to the amplitude and the frequencies of the sounds of the water fountain. You may think you hear something like a child's voice or running noises, but what you hear actually is just the chirps of the crickets.
In Track 7, Parking Lot for Bicycles / The Library, and in Track 8, Shorefront of a Lake / Commercial Space, we mixed segments of different frequencies (high and low pitches) alternately as seen in the attached illustration. Two sound sources were simultaneously mixed, but the frequency spectra of both did not overlap with each other.
The duration of both Track 7 and 8 is six minutes long, and the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes have different frequency spectra.
Track 9, In a Farmland, was recorded in the same method as in the Track 3. In the last half, Taiwanese squirrels are screaming out.
Track 10, From The Rooftop, Railway Terminal Station, the playback speed of the stereo sound source is 924%. We recorded it on the rooftop of a building, facing a train station.
Track 11, The Farthest Land #3, is environmental sounds recorded with double stereo. We set up two microphones on the ground horizontally, and two other microphones on the ground vertically.
We are thinking of developing and deepening our project in the future, to make something which will convey the meaning of processing. This is the first work of the series. For our future works, we are thinking of adding some ideological aspects, too.
- Toshiya Tsunoda
Marc Medwin, Dusted
“I am looking for a place,” intones F.B.I agent Dale Cooper’s doppelganger to Richard Horne in last summer’s Twin Peaks revival. “Do you understand place?” The question might just as well have been posed by Erstwhile label boss Jon Abbey, who’s been releasing music deconstructing the idea of place, with increasing frequency, for eighteen years. It started with Dach, by Phil Durrant, Thomas Lehn and Radu Malfatti, in which minute structural changes of a concert venue served as unwitting but sonically demonstrable backdrop to a performance. The environment insinuated itself on proceedings, awakening performers and listeners to the unpredictability of place in musical endeavor. Both Toshiya Tsunoda and Taku Unami have histories with Erstwhile, and both are composers for whom conventional connotations of composition are anathema. They demonstrate it on Wovenland, whose title says everything and nothing about the sounds within.
On one level, and as with several previous Erstwhile releases, a macrocosmic palindrome governs the album’s form, right down to the identical timings of the opening and final tracks and of their sonic gestalt, if not exact content. Beyond this surface consideration, matters become more complicated. Abbey was kind enough to let me see some notes by Tsunoda regarding the duo’s chosen compositional processes. The disc presents jump-cut juxtapositions of environmental conglomerations, or inter-weavings, as heard on the first and last track, with location recordings overlayed or subjected to more radical manipulations. A first listen can be deliciously disorienting; the wind-and-leaf-blown, Gargantuan but somehow joyful sound stage of “The Farthest Land #1” slams, with the sudden ferocity of stark stereophonic displacement, into “Park cleaning_Crickets Chirping,” in which Unami programmed the two sounds so that when the park-cleaning volume falls to a certain level, the crickets enter.
With that juxtaposition determining what is heard with each passing instant, the duo’s true collaborative accomplishment first becomes clear. Both artists’ fascination with sound is supplemented by Unami’s programming skill to create a language of operators determining form and structure. The sounds of sweeping, or of footsteps, become simultaneously percussive and disconnected from their surroundings, taking on a rhythmic vitality in counterpoint to the slightly recessed chirping. A new environment emerges from the tightly controlled formants of two others. The stakes are raised with “In the Park,” where the environment is fragmented and reassembled in something approaching polymeter. Again, stereo separation is brutally stark and bone-dry, everything hard-panned either left or right for maximum effect. Meter is augmented by bits of pitched timbre making a kind of melody. It’s as if Brahms’ metric juxtapositions and Webern’s dotted melodic lines were somehow combined in the 21st century, the melodically and rhythmically innovative aspects of their aesthetics transcending the instrumental realm. Repeated listening yields a rhythmic intensification in the first three pieces, bringing formal concerns and resultant scale to another level and making the relative and bleak emptiness of “In the city, fire sirens” all the more palpable.
The album’s multilayered form, structure and their unity necessitated at least some focus on pedantry, but it works beautifully even when these concerns are relegated to perception’s backburner. All of the pieces provide similarly fascinating glimpses into the musical elements of supposedly everyday occurrence. “Parking lot for bicycles_the library” accentuates usually imperceptible frequencies in the environment and in the conjoining timbres of metal and rubber as the cyclists pass by, similarly to what Michael Pisaro did on Wandelweiser in his Transparent City series fourteen years ago. The chosen frequencies’ change halfway through is quietly cataclysmic. Several pieces pair in wild contrast. “In the city” is chilling, harsh and unrelenting as interregistral and reverberant drone and ominous rumble is sparsely populated by the nameless sounds of late-night industrial infiltration. Again, the lugubrious emptiness of David Lynch’s cityscapes seem relevant, and it’s easy to become lost in the mechanized thrum and buzz of desertion, but “From the rooftop, railway terminal station”’s brief and hyperactive luminosity is the perfect antidote. That the former was slowed way down and the latter sped way up speaks both to process and to that process’s relevance to the whole.
As a whole, the music moves away from the instantly recognizable while finally returning to it, though the departure and its resultant narrative rarely forsake an unmistakable sense of place. It also demonstrates, if this still needs demonstration, that each aspect of what seems normal is perception-dependent. If Dach and Michael Pisaro’s stunning Transparent City series, where sine tones augment frequencies in recorded cityscapes, represent aspects of initiation into the hyperconscious but subtle recomposition of environment, Wovenland is the next step along the paths blazed by their pioneering work. It is a satisfying musical statement, a fascinating glance into compositional procedure, and, apparently, the first in a series of such explorations, which would be more than welcome.