V/A – Art Of The Muses


[Reviewed by Iaha Crax]

The muses here presented are female composers from Far East Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia). The label Syrphe, which releases experimental and electronic music, gathered these compositions and offered us a rare chance of meeting this musical territory.

Some of them use only voice in their compositions, like the first one, Alice Huiseichang (Taiwan), an Asian replica of Diamanda Galas. Others use typical instruments which I can only guess, like Aki Ito.

There are very uncommon moments created by strange and particular devices of singing, that familiarize us with sounds never heard before. Itta, for example, blows in a sort of a pipe or whistles with a leaf. The effect is amusing.

Tomoko Sauvage from Japan, creates sound by the use of water and the whole resembles the effect of a harp. Actually she makes water and air vibrate, and the result is more than interesting. You can find more information on her detailed website.

Snake-rope sublation is played by Kismett from Singapore, a nice ambient tainted with electronic shootings for a ridiculous or strange effect. Vavabond, a Chinese sound-worker, delivers a piece made of non-musical instruments, which sounds like the turning of a wheel. It all progressively transforms by the adding of digitalized vocals and electronics. This track called “Shadow of Iron” reveals to us a Merzbowian complex structure of a solid delicacy.

Pei, Taiwan, uses one tonality transformed through different frequencies and giving the impression of being a meditative support.

Huiseichang has here her second song, the same vocal-abuse as in the “extended vocal technique”. I see the artist has a name in her country and she searches to transmit a message of her own. You can find more on her blog.

Again Tomoko, the woman playing in water-filled bowls. These are provided with microphones (hydrophones in this case) that once the water is touched, resonate in the air. An unique electro-acoustic treat.

Aki Ito this time plays on a string instrument. It’s a short kind of a sonata composed by this Japanese composer, that has a very intense activity with concerts in Europe and Asia. Verita Shalavita, coming from Indonesia, interprets an elegiac song, almost strangulated in sound. It might be a local form of string instrument. Luong Hue has the longest track on the record, called “Somnambulism”, mostly an improvisation on different instruments from different registers and even electronic devices.

Lau Mun from Malaysia closes this record, with the shortest track, an audio presentation of the rustle of a paper.

The Art of the Muses is a highly pedagogical collection of Asian avant-garde artists with a goal to introduce neophytes to this musical territory. I totally rejected my debut reluctance and am now eager to discover even more about this unfamiliar music. And the Syrphe label can be of much aid in this case. On their website (http://www.syrphe.com/) there are plenty of projects from countries exotic for a European.

Various Artists – Art Of The Muses
Syrphe, S012
CD, digital 2012

One response to “V/A – Art Of The Muses

  1. Pingback: Queasy Listening 20140210 « Queasy Listening with Cloudy Grey·

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