Seijiro Murayama/Tim Blechmann

Non Visual Objects NVO 21

Mercurial and multi-disciplinary Nagasaki-born, Paris-based percussionist Seijiro Murayama has evolved a minimalist attack which often mixes extreme timbral qualities with impulses from unexpected disciplines. That’s what makes this CD, named for a collective of so-called “pluridisciplinairy” artists, so fascinating.

Murayama, who over the years has gone from playing in avant-rock bands such as Fushitsusha and K.K. Null to literally creating music about architecture – at a program honoring Le Corbusier in 2009 – now also frequently works with leading Gallic experimenters such as musique concrète composer Lionel Marchetti and saxophonist Michel Doneda. This time however, he has chosen to frame his multi-tonal, languid and often barely-there improvisations with a backdrop of oscillated buzzes from Tim Blechmann’s electronics. Approximately a quarter century younger than Murayama, who was born in 1957, Bielefeld, Germany-born, Vienna-based Blechmann has used his laptop and loudspeakers to regularly collaborate with fellow laptoppist Klaus Filip and turntablist dieb13.

All and all, the audible textures on 347 are mostly centred on what Murayama can extract from his minimal kit as he scratches and scuffs it as if he was a squirrel discovering nuts he had buried before winter hibernation. With the grisaille-like intonation pushed so that subtle shading appears, pitch-sliding sound associated with stretching elastics, balling paper, marbles revolving on a snare top and even rebounds are audible, framed by constant drones from Blechmann’s circuitry. Nevertheless, silence is also such a leitmotif here, that a police siren wailing faintly somewhere outside almost become an ancillary artistic statement.

Eventually an explosion of hard drum-top strokes and strident cymbal scratches reach mid-tempo intonation, followed by a tsunami of signal processed buzzes, flanges and flutters. These unmistakably synthesized hisses and whooshes gradually get louder and more diffuse just as the percussionist unleashes blunt strokes, which confirm the woodenness of his stick, the tactility of his drum head and the serrated qualities of the cymbal rippling on the drum top. At times, in fact, his contrapuntal motions suggest human cries or canine barks. Finally, as Blechmann’s blurry timbres pulsate unabated, the percussionist conclusively whacks a tiny wood block with a small stick. After this, Murayama gradually allows the faint purring of the laptop to move to the foreground until it too is replaced by silence.

Appreciation for 347 demands suspension of common assumptions about percussion sounds. Once you accept Murayama`s – and by extension Blechmann`s – unique sonic sensibilities, the shape of this recital becomes that much clearer and more affecting.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. 347

Personnel: Seijiro Murayama (amplified snare drum, cymbal and objects) and Tim Blechmann (lap top and circuitry)