Illuha is a collaboration between Tokyo-based musicians Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date. Their second appearance on the 12k label (not counting their contribution to the “Between” live album a few months back) is a collection of live recordings entitled “Interstices”, and is somewhat curiously positioned: the record is released as part of 12k’s ‘Limited Series’, which apparently is intended for “new ideas, live recordings, conceptual works, re-releases, or other music to be quietly released beneath the radar”. This means that “Interstices” is not, according to the accompanying press release, Illuha’s second album proper, the follow-up to 2011’s “Shizuku”, despite being album-length and released in an edition of 500. There are artists on the 12k roster whose disregard for the standard album format seems to verge on the gleeful (hello Mr. Kirschner), but this does not seem to be the case here; suffice it to say that “Interstices”, despite being comprised of live recordings, does not in any way come across as a sideline project for diehard fans and 12k completists only, to be relegated to the footnotes of the discography. Indeed, the quality of the music to be heard here is both pleasing and instructive.
“Interstices”‘three tracks are each quite different, and the differences between them provide much to think about. Opener “Interstices II” (the tracks are numbered according to when they were recorded, even though the record orders them differently) is an open and wide-ranging rummage through various melodic and harmonic ideas, and has the most obviously ’live’ and improvised quality to it. “Interstices I (Seiya)” is more focused, with a narrower selection of sounds and less variation across the piece; the reading of a poem by Tadahito Ichinoseki provides the track’s focal point. “Interstices III” is classic ambient drone, a synth wash backing resonant, fragmentary guitar melodies, with field recordings of what could be birds or frogs occasionally bubbling to the surface. It was “Interstices II” that immediately endeared itself to me over the other two tracks: its exploratory nature, combined with just enough hints of structure, returning, and discrete interacting elements to imply complexity and contingency rather than mere randomness, perhaps seems a little more reflective of the way the rest of my life appears than the sense of completeness and lucidity provided by the other two. No doubt for others the more concise, song-like “Interstices I” or “Interstices II”’s sense of continual travel will seem more resonant.
Those waiting eagerly for a follow-up to “Shizuku” will not be at all disappointed by “Interstices”. One can imagine a possible near future in which the live recording becomes the standard format for experimental (post-?)ambient music, with the studio recording assuming the status of occasional novelty; for now, comparing the individual merits of “Interstices”’ three tracks gives plenty of food for thought. Go listen!
– Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio