Yutaka Hirose’s Varied Spaces

An archival release from WRWTFWW Records

I sometimes wonder if the steady stream of archival, often never before heard, ambient music from Japan is, in fact, an artful ploy, an aesthetic provocation in the form of a narrative prank — like a music-history equivalent of the Wikipedia user, Zhemao, who reportedly created an expansive fictional medieval history of Russia (see: vice.com). Also, not a prank in the Punk’d “gotcha” sense, but more in the sense of the RE/Search book, a compendium that argued they “constitute an art form and genre.”

In any case, there’s a fine new collection of historical material, Trace: Sound Design Works 1986​-​1989, out from musician Yutaka Hirose. Many of its 11 tracks have the deep, echoing resonance of sound recorded in situ, like the dubby beading of “Inner Voice,” all moist clangs and spatial ambience, and the mechanical soundscape of “Voice from Past Technology.” This physicality represents what Hirose told critic Narushi Hosoda in a Tokion interview published last month: “I wanted to build sounds based on space rather than do something musical.” Other tracks further expand the scope, allowing for seemingly virtual spaces, like the lofi beats and warped vocal of “The Breath of Cyberspace.”

Album released at the Bandcamp page of the WRWTFWW Records label.

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