Keith Rowe / Taku Unami (lossless)
Lossless AIFF (16bit/44.1kHz)
ErstLive 006 is from the duo of Keith Rowe and Taku Unami, and took place on the first night of the AMPLIFY 2008: light festival in Tokyo in September 2008. This was the first set they'd ever played together.
For CD format, go to this page.
1. Untitled 37:34
(released December 8, 2008)
Keith Rowe: guitar, electronics
Taku Unami: computer with objects, contraguitar, mandolin
recorded on 19 September 2008 by Taku Unami at Kid Ailack Art Hall, Tokyo as part of AMPLIFY 2008: light
design by Shane Arbogast
photography by Yuko Zama
Darren Bergstein, The Squid's Ear
The sixth edition in Erstwhile's occasional series of documented live events, this prickly meeting of guitar deconstructionist Rowe and laptopist Unami took place as part of the label's September 2008 Amplify concert in Tokyo. The booklet's inside cover reveals Rowe sitting behind a hornet's nest of wires connected to his well-worn tabletop guitar, battery of effects boxes, amplifiers and pick-ups; Unami, his younger foil, sits similarly poised if a bit more sedate behind his computer. Both would appear to be frozen in stasis were it not for the meticulously rendered, considered, and patient sonic mass they gradually allow to build, which belies the notion that this was anything but a frictionless event.
From the initial clacking modules that seem to establish the 37-minute piece's "metronomic" mood (is it a mutated tickertape machine? A looped digital error message? A cardiac fibrillator on the fritz?), Rowe and Unami go to work, each massaging a variously febrile series of edgy sounds from their respective kits. Perceiving this solely as an isolated recording — having not been in attendance myself — I can only guess (inaccurately, it should be added) as to who is concocting what, although Rowe's intermittent string buffs (and shortwave short-circuits) clearly reveal his calling card. The sense of tension that sometimes results from the duo's tone bending must have certainly felt more palpable witnessed in the cold light of the performance space; on record, the effect is somewhat dulled, but in its place one can easily delight at the duo's sheer skill at instituting it all.
Eventually, those interminable machine gun rattles give way to Rowe's astringent finesses, his fingers coaxing everything from gentle wafts of fuzz to full-on bricks of brave noise from his overworked fret boards. Unami does his best to keep up, bathing the sometimes inchoate proceedings in varying shades of digital light and lugubrious (for such minimal tapestries) sonic quarks: scabrous drones, bursting tonal bubblets, objects flickering, flittering, and scampering about only half-glimpsed as they instantly morph to noises quite otherwise. Imbibing this particular strain of contemporary electroacoustic improv requires a certain relaxing of the listening muscles: the "music" rarely resolves itself into anything linear, or even something nigh on comprehensible, but if experienced as a mode of electrical soundsc(r)aping, its variegated wonders suddenly make an awry sort of sense. Those in attendance must have surely agreed.