TO:30 - Ryoji Ikeda "+/-"

CD - 10 tracks

Tracklist

1. Headphonics 0/0 (3:12)
2. Headphonics 1/0 (4:16)
4. + (2:50)
5. +. (5:07)
6. +.. (10:55)
7. - (6:36)
8. -. (11:51)
9. -.. (13:24)
10. +/- (1:05)


tinymixtapes (USA):

Forget microhouse; Ryoji Ikeda’s late 90s masterpiece +/- takes electronic music and examines it on an atomic level. Ikeda uses an incredibly small palette of sounds, many of them nearly beyond the range of human hearing, but the overall effect is hypnotic and physically arresting. There are moments on this album that have made me flinch in surprise; Ikeda draws his listeners in with swiftly repeating beats and establishes a powerful rhythm that makes a shift like the one from “+.” to “+..” all the more shocking.

Though usually listed as 10 tracks, +/- can really be considered three very different pieces. Tracks 1-3 comprise the 10-minute “Headphonics,” an especially groovy opening act to the more reserved title songs that span tracks 4-10. What it lacks in the catchiness and bass beats found on “Headphonics” the “+” section makes up for in sheer motorik intensity, while “-“ acts as the opposite – after the clipping beats of “+,” “-,” the longest section on the album, it provides the perfect come-down from the preceding intensity. The album moves into light speed here as the beats repeat so fast they destroy all sense of rhythm. It becomes one atmospheric unified sound, with a single metronomic beat present like a weakening pulse. The slow burning track builds up to a sort of climax in its final, longest section, until the seams begin to show and the piece breaks down.

In the coda, “+/-,” all that Ikeda leaves us with is a single sine wave, barely recognizable to the human ear. With the wave playing out for that last 60 seconds, it allows the album to end, yet the sounds still literally have a presence in the room. It gives the feeling of hearing something just out of your reach. Ikeda has said that most people really only notice the tone when it is gone. A note that only makes itself known through its absence is a beautiful idea, and Ikeda weaves these rare concepts and sounds into a unique and brilliant album. [Miles Bowe]

These Records Mail Order Catalogue (UK):

"A benchmark release in digital minimalism. Has to be heard, totally compulsive and immaculately constructed, pushes the envelope while keeping full control. Essential, and deceptively easy listening."

themusic.net:

"Ultra-minimalist Japanese composer. Clicks, beeps, ultrasonics. Pretend you live in an empty white apartment with no furniture except one orchid in a vase, but still placed according to the dictates of feng shui. Ultra-chillout. But not if you've a hangover."

KALX Radio (USA):

"Hi, there. I spoke recently with the fellow from Dutch East India who so kindly sent us some of your recent releases, but I wanted to share with you my experiences with the "+ / -" album... I just got it out for the DJs to play this week, and while several people were in my office, I played the last track (#10) on the boom box for them. Cringe-o-rama. It was a lot of fun. I can hardly wait to play the disc on our "INFORMATION OVERLOAD" show for the "difficult listening" crowd. Thanks. PS: are there any unwelcome physiological effects to that record that I, or the University's lawyers, should know about?"

The Wire (UK):

"You can't have missed it: some of the wildest possible music is coming out of Japan right now. Ryoji Ikeda may lack the junkyard neuropathology of Merzbow, the conceptual single-mindedness of Aube, or the shooting star desolation of Keiji Haino, but despite his absolute reliance on electronics, this is one musician willing to dive completely off the edge of the map. Previous Ikeda releases, on his own CCI Recordings label and on several compilations, have seen him move from media collage to an interest in the noise that surrounds those signals. + / - continues the move to a music that relies entirely on buzzes, crackles and test tones. The opening "Headphonics" is an absolutely indespensible bridge between sinetone minimalism and Panasonic-style modernist techno, with Ikeda's peeps, clicks and pure tones organised rhythmically to disprove the theory that Techno-bleepery had gone as far as it could. The 50 minute headliner, "+ / -", makes an even more convincing push towards terra incognita. It opens with three tracks of jittery machine-rhythm, dropping any pretence of danceability in favour of a more disruptive aesthetic. These are followed by three drone tracks (some with added bleeps), which displays Ikeda's usual love of Zen minimalism, an echo of the unassuming ethic of non-interference that inspired Alvin Lucier's experiments with Minimalist electronics. These are more complex than the imperceptibility fluctuating sine tones that filled previous Ikeda releases. If anything, too much happens. Ultimately Ikeda seems to be encompassing Stockhausen's insight that rhythms and frequencies are just the same thing perceived at very different speeds." [Brian Duguid]

New Powers (Canada):

"due Nov 11th 10 trax, 62m Very good release from Japanese experimenter who has a CD on CCI label and was featured on the Fault In The Nothing compilation from Ash International. Features 2 sections: "Headphonics" 1-3 minimal beeps and pulses that is a kind of subtle avant-techno. The third part features bleeps and held tones like Riou Tomita. Also "+ / -" 6 parts: mechanical beat like a small engine with occasional interuptions. Track 7 "-" & 9 "-.." are oscillating drones (each channel is different) that remind of Eliane Radigue. The 2nd piece "has a particular sonority whose quality is determined by one's listening point in relation to the loudspeakers. Furthermore, the listener can experience a particular difference between speaker playback and headphone listening. The sound signals can be through of in the same way as light is made spotlight. Lastly, a high frequency sound is used that the listener becomes aware of only upon its disappearance."

REMIX (Japan):

"The new release from Ryoji Ikeda comes out from TOUCH, which has been continuing a series of very excellant CDs. Just like his last release that caused a world-wide great sensation, from this CD which is designed with thorough stoicisms, sharp sound, which is free from freindliness as well as the design and seems as if it broke through into a new dimension, having an influence on the present scene of electro-acoustic which cannot be reached by a mere unconsciousness or strategy, comes directly to our auditory senses. Two aspects are included in this CD, and both of them excel the sound of Panasonic and PITA, and are highly mathematical, we can declare not only compositions but also tones are perfect. We should listen to this with headphone. It will not long before his new CD is released. When I listen to his works, I feel as if I was made to realise the most positive aspect of being intelligent in playing and listening to music." [Atushi Sasaki/trans. Koji Marutani]

Sound & Recording (Japan):

"Ryoji Ikeda, an Electro-accoustic musician, is noted for the production of various compilation CDs and his collaboration with Dumb type besides his own activity. He released his second solo CD on TOUCH in London. His talent for producing a vital beat by transfering non-organic sound fragments into his unique sound combination is second to none and it makes me convinced that he is appreciated more abroad than in Japan. I hope this CD will be enjoyed by more and more Japanese listeners."

Studio Voice (Japan):

"The second solo CD of Ryoji Ikeda who has established his position in the mineral accoustic scene (eh? - ed.) is released from TOUCH in London. The sound is just as you imagine from the cover design, composed of digital sound which is as if it were tick-tuck and morse code and linear thin sound without any high or low tone. However, this is not an enumeration of sound materials at all, but there are a great number of images in the subtle differences of sound."

KALX Radio (USA):

"Hi, there. I spoke recently with the fellow from Dutch East India who so kindly sent us some of your recent releases, but I wanted to share with you my experiences with the "+ / -" album... I just got it out for the DJs to play this week, and while several people were in my office, I played the last track (#10) on the boom box for them. Cringe-o-rama. It was a lot of fun. I can hardly wait to play the disc on our "INFORMATION OVERLOAD" show for the "difficult listening" crowd. Thanks. PS: are there any unwelcome physiological effects to that record that I, or the University's lawyers, should know about?"

gman2 (Web):

"Experimental musicians usually ignore traditional tonal systems for more ambiguous sounds. Try assigning a key signature to Panasonic or Final - it can't be done. Same goes for the pulsing binary language of Ryoji Ikeda's + / - (Touch) and Austria's truly bizarre Farmers Manual and Pita (Mego). Ikeda takes a scientific approach, investigating spatial relativities of speaker position and perceived sound. A dark room, surround-sound, an open mind, and a copy of + / - make for an evening of endless fun (if you get into that sort of thing). Two main experiments, "Headphonics" and "+ / -," bounce sonar blips and extreme high-frequencies off your ears, the walls, and one another. Ever wonder what it feels like to be a bat in flight? Ikeda replaces the grinding physicality of Panasonic or Bruce Gilbert with a Zen purity and simplicity. The flowing river of sub-bass tones on "headphonics 1/0" is undeniably breathtaking, and the "+ / -" experiments suggest the minimal European techno style stripped of all danceability... or echolocation as an aesthetic form".

Bleed (Germany):

Das londoner Label, in den 80gern ehemals Cassetten Label und protegiert von Nevil Brodie ist in Technokreisen bekannt geworden durch Monumental-Alben von Richard S. Kirk, Sweet Exorsist und Cabaret Voltaire ( alles ertgenannte Person!) Mitte der 90er, hat aber immer auch Bezug zu Elektronischer Musik gehalten, wie durch Mesmer, Havler Trio oder den californischen Performance Künstler Z'ev. Bekannt ist auch sein umstrittenes Sublabel Ash, daß von Scanner geleitet wird und welches unter anderem Militärfunksprüche oder delayte Nationalhymnen veröffentlicht. Bei Ryoji Ikeda hingegen stößt man bemerkenswerter Weise auf ein digitales, spartanisches Klangbild, daß ein dermaßen ästhetischen Wert besitzt, wie es der Europäer nur in Sushi Bars erahnen kann. Dizipliniert und vorgezeichnet ist dieses extrem statische und zugleich sehr tiefgehende Minimalkonzept. Töne scheinen an hauchfeinen Strichlinien entlangzugleiten und beschreiben architektonische Sachlichkeit. Klangüberschneidungen ergeben Varianten, ohne das das Arrangement ausgeweitet werden muß. Nicht nur ungewöhnlich für elektronische Musik an sich, sondern auch für ihn, dessen zwei Veröffentlichungen vorher ambienteren Charakter hatten. Ryoji Ikedas +- ist ein unbedingtes Muß!>

Magnet (USA):

"Experimental musicians usually ignore traditional tonal systems for more ambiguous sounds. Try assigning a key signature to Panasonic; it can't be done. The same goes for the pulsing binary language of Ryoji Ikeda (Touch). Ikeda's + / - takes a scientific approach, investigating spatial relatives of speaker position and perceived sound. A dark room, an open mind and a copy of + / - make for an evening of endless fun (if you get into this sort of thing). Two main experiments, "+ / -" and "Headphonics" bounce sonar blips and extreme high-frequencies off your ears, the walls and one another. Ever wondered what it feels like to be a bat in flight? Ikeda replaces the grinding physicality of Panasonic or Bruce Gilbert with a Zen purity and simplicity. The flowing river of sub-bass tones on "Headphonics 1/0" is undeniably breathtaking, and the title track experiments suggest the minimal European techno style stripped of all danceability."





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