Review of Hum [12k1035]

Rare Frequency (US)

Sawako is a young Japanese sound artist, currently working and studying in New York. She makes music using a combination of field recordings, computer processing, and acoustic instruments, mixing the sounds of the everyday with digital signal processing. Hum is the third in a trio of quietly compelling, subtly personal records that she has released in the past year or so – the other two are Yours Gray on and/OAR and Omnibus on Community Library. On those earlier records Sawako often tempered her quiet, rather minimal compositions with moments of sly humor and disarming domestic textures. Hum retains only a few hints of the idiosyncratic playfulness β€” such as the sound of her cat’s meow β€” that made her previous work so unusual and charming. The record is warm, meditative, and even quietly romantic in tone throughout, as she blends and processes recordings of Tokyo and New York with piano, guitar, voice, and grainy digital textures. The sound is hazy and somewhat familiar, and yet as comforting as Hum is, it never devolves into toothless ambience. I do miss the quirky, slightly rough quality of many of her other works, but this remains a truly lovely record.

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