Review of Tasogare: Live In Japan [12k2019]

Musique Machine (.COM)

<i>Tasogare: Live in Tokyo </i>is a showcase of minimalist drone styling’s from deep listening / glitch label 12k. Five untitled avant electronic lullabies, each from a different artist, unfold steadily and smoothly over 10 to 20 minutes, roughly at the respiratory rate of a sleeping person. Slow, muffled drifts of kaleidoscopic digital tones create sluggish suspended states of partial awareness through gentle, welcome repetitions. Entirely made up of gooey, softened percolations and gentle filtered noise loops, these songs are deeply soporific but also quite engaging.

Minamo opens the album with a high pitched electronic beeping (some type of scanning machine?) over patiently spaced 3 note arpeggiated chords from an acoustic guitar and a gushing, endlessly echoing piano, which spews forth waterfalls of consonant notes. The guitar later breaks into a determined quarter note strum, and the piece pushes excitingly forward before immersing completely into a mesmerizing resonance loop which develops naturally, almost imperceptibly, out of the driving guitar.

Sawako + Hofli’s track begins quite interestingly, with a reverent tone about it as a delicate soprano voice intones meandering sing-song phrases over a synth chord. Sections containing field recordings of weather, bells, and uneven synth resonances immediately follow. Then, the second half of the track is curiously similar to a new age recording. A classical guitar sounds major key phrases which move lightly up and down the scales. “La la la…”, the singer croons soothingly. The guitar diffuses into watery rippling loops at the end, with wonderful subtle beauty.

Moskitoo gives us the most mechanical, drugged and detached sounding piece on the album with three clearly separated movements of pointillist, circular glitch. The first is an unaesthetic grey noise flotsam constructed from stray bits of digital information. Fragments of voices and instruments dance through the soundspace. The second movement introduces a melodic chime loop complimented by a skittering rhythm made up of static clicks and whirrs. The utopic melody is similar to something Oval would make. The final section is the most sparse and open, dominated by organ tones in an unresolved chord.

The movement and feeling of Solo Andata’s music in the 4th track is more traditionally ambient, a mixture of synthetic, cloudy drones and field recordings that sketches first a misty, dreary shore, and later a pitch dark aquatic abyss. DSP cloaks all sound with a watery sheen; panning follows the rhythm of the waves. Slow-crawling glacial pad synths emerge ominously like shipwrecks from the murk. For most of the running time, the dinging of a buoy is audible, bobbing about the soundspace.

Label owner Taylor Deupree’s piece is the most minimal of all, repeating the same strobing volleys of muffled consonant chords for upwards of 10 minutes, complimented by dirty tape loops of wind or filtered noise, which pan around the listener in even circles. Though unsurprising, it’s absolutely beautiful, and the loops are quite complex. Comparisons to Oval are again warranted, but the pacing of this music is much slower, and more comparable to an artist like William Basinski.

I’m unsure if these pieces were actually performed one after another, in sequence identical to this, for the concert this album is documenting. In any case, the album flows amazingly well as a suite, and the stylistic differences between the artists make <i>Tasogare: Live in Tokyo</i> an entirely listenable experience. All five pieces are masterworks of technically masterful yet ear-pleasing and emotional soundcraft, and each creates and sustains a sublime and lethargic womb-like space that entertains without actually altering its materials. I highly recommend this to any fan of ambient electronic music, 12k or other deep listening music.

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