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Nobukazu Takemura
Nobukazu Takemura
Hoshi Ko Noe
Thrill Jockey

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Japanese electronic experimentalist Nobukazu Takemura reminds me of an innocent Aphex Twin -- Richard D. James before the dementia kicked in. There's a child-like playfulness to Hoshi No Koe, a wide-eyed sense of wonder. "One Day" starts the album off with birds chirping and the soft sound of waves. A gently rising and falling, cyclic melody with a calliope-like tone at once entrances and relaxes. "Anemometer" is beefier, with drum machines, electric pianos and synthetic blips and bleeps galore, though it utilizes the same sort of building, cyclic form, with hypnotic melodies surfacing and sinking in a layered sea of sound. The crashing, almost spastic drum samples remind you that this isn't your grand-daddy's minimalism; while certain elements might recall Terry Riley, for instance, it belongs solidly in the post-hip-hop world.

In "Honey Comb", Takemura uses disorienting electronic pops and clicks to create a little monologue. It's fanciful and charming, almost as if your refrigerator piped up one day to tell you how she really felt about being a refrigerator. "White Sheep and Small Light" is a three-voice chorale of sorts, realized with standard MIDI instruments. It sounds like it could be the incidental music for a PBS presentation of "Little Red Riding Hood" -- light, airy and jaunty. A whole album of this would be ill-advised, but as a single track amid a slew of slightly off-kilter music, it fits right in.

Hoshi No Koe's highlight is "Sign", in which Takemura orchestrates skipping CDs, vocoded voices and digital distortion with his customary bleeps and melodic fragments, creating an undulating masterpiece. I'm amazed at how successfully he blends these disparate materials into a musical whole. For this track alone, Hoshi No Koe is worth the fifteen dollars (or whatever you pay where you live).

-- Noah Wane
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