Minamo & Lawrence English – A Path Less Travelled
Posted In: A Path Less Travelled, Alex Gibson, Lawrence English, Minamo, Minamo & Lawrence English - A Path Less Travelled, Namiko Sasamoto, Room40. Keiichi Sugimoto, Tetsuro Yasunaga, Yuiichiro Iwashita
Comments: One Response
Recorded and produced in Tokyo and Brisbane, locations removed and refocused, moments captured and redeployed…
A Path Less Travelled is the culmination of two years work between Japanese quartet Minamo and Australian composer and media artist Lawrence English. It’s a clinical display of intelligent musicianship, an instructive demonstration on the sparing use of field recordings as layers and a textbook example of how to mix and master minimal music effectively. The panning and audio separation is lyrical and striking without being showy, and the multiple tracks are juggled effortlessly, all well placed. Following one element around the mix will lead you around and behind the others, with plenty hidden in corners to surprise over repeat listens.
“The Path” starts with incredibly subtle buzz, bird noise and clarinet-like tones. The track acts as a scene setter in two ways – slowly opening up the record in a gentle fashion, and also demonstrating the deft sound management. There are multiple layers at play; all balanced carefully and evenly across the speakers, driving in and out of the foreground. Special mention is given to the bass that surfaces midway through the ten-minute epic, giving the arrangement a feeling of drifting out to sea.
“Headlights” is a spectacularly WIDE number, sounding like it occurs simultaneously inside a dense wetland at night and a tea garden frost early in the morning – crystal clear field recordings merge into static radio white noise, darting around percussive chiming notes that hide what sound like flickering tape loops. Again, the bass becomes the focal point after being present in the mix for some time. It just becomes… more apparent.
“Glimmer” acts as something of a transition piece, with some comparatively abrasive noise, atonal pulsing and shuffling static leading into the seventeen-minute heart of the release to follow.
“Springhead” rises out of choppy waters into an implied structure before spilling open into hypnotic, droned out layering, built on subterranean minimalist bass, guitar picking, keys and bells. The arrangement lulls midway, before bagpipes (?) herald in a guitar-based interlude that wavers with the addition of a number of warped unidentifiable elements. This then returns to the choppy waters that it rose from, dragging the arrangement in behind it; a choral horn section marking its passing.
“Fireworks” opens with just that, well recorded crackers just out of the direct line of hearing. This gritty guitar based number skirts up against the edges of a number of categorizations, before rescinding its threat to cross into any of their territories. Instead, it contents itself with grinding down to a sudden close.
A Path Less Travelled is available now from ROOM 40 records – a purchase will get you a 320K MP3 immediate download, and the CD ships within the next couple of business days.
Keiichi Sugimoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga formed Minamo in 1999. In 2000, the New York label Quakebasket reissued Minamo’s self-released CD-R “wakka”. This release was selected as one of best sounds in 2001 in The Wire magazine. In 2001 two new members joined, Yuiichiro Iwashita (guitar) and Namiko Sasamoto (sax, organ), to make the band a quartet.
Lawrence English is media artist, composer and curator based in Australia. Working across an eclectic array of aesthetic investigations, English’s work prompts questions of field, perception and memory. He utilizes a variety of mediums including live performance, audio/visual environments, found sound/vision to create his work that typifies his interests in creating experiences that create subtle transformation of space and ask audiences to become aware of that which exists at the edge of perception.
- Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio