901 Editions released another two fine records on July 3. In these two releases, scintillating textures meet with microtonal sounds and musical philosophies become as real and as solid as physical, in-real-life architecture. The first is Superscience, by Japan’s Minamo. Recorded at Ochiai Soup in Tokyo on May 11 2019, Superscience alludes to a living organism which constantly and consistently mutates. A record built on harmony enables both growth and the possibility of progression, and its varying underlying frequencies gift the music with a greater flexibility and a sense of fun. Hard-wired textures that sound like digital relics from a manipulated and frayed motherboard are fed through the mix until they surface as part of a main melody, while other interference – static, hums, and basic, dial-up internet chirps and other noises – remain in the background.
Guitar and microsounds combine to form music of a laser-like precision, but music that remains completely organic despite its digital, computerised leanings. At thirty-three minutes, Superscience is long enough to feel like a live, improvised performance. If any mistakes or accidental sounds are recorded, they’re made to feel welcome rather than being rejected, as is the accepted norm; inclusion instead of exclusion benefits the music and adds to its natural state, and these sounds become a vital organ in the music’s body, shaping the experience and adding authenticity rather than shunning the mistake or looking to snip it with a quick cut.
An excursion into the experimental, Superscience is a complex living organism with many dimensions, and each angle reveals another side to its musical expression.
Fabio Perletta and Luigi Turra’s debut collaboration, Ma, is rooted in Japanese culture. Turra invited Perletta to rework his piece ‘Texture Vitra’ – a sound study composed of recordings from various architectural spaces, all of which were designed by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando – but this piece of music became a catalyst for something on a larger scale. The piece was an attempt to ‘perform an active dialogue between Ando’s aesthetic principles and sonic practice’.
In the same way, Ma explores the concepts of architecture and its influence on sound, and how sound can affect, shape, and adapt to its surroundings. This architectural entity doesn’t exist in the physical world; it isn’t a tower or a venue or a stadium or a concert hall or a dilapidated concrete block or a skyscraper or a bank or an office or a city hall. The space is only brought to life in the presence of music; the music gives birth to the space. Although music remains auditory, it affects the physical environment. Frequencies shatter glass. Vibrations alter the physical world. This is a place where sound sculpts a space.
Ma represents a concept to be found in multiple Japanese practices and disciplines, including music and architecture, wherein notions of space, time, dimension, distance, pause, interruption, and relationship are explored and investigated, and how these areas converse with and intertwine with music. Sudden gaps appear, as if dropping the listener through a floor, and other areas light up with an unfolding expanse of airy sound; a space empty apart from the sounds within (so not really empty at all, then). Ma is an indication and an exposing of the micro and the macro, the monumental and the restrained – a limitless chasm or the tiniest, in-between sound of silence as one note ends and the other is yet to make an appearance. The playfulness of music is still intact, and this is by no means a scientific record. Ma is experimental, but it has a solid, fundamental, and undeniable doctrine behind it: the concepts spread themselves out, and they’re far-reaching.
So-called ‘accidental sounds’ are embraced and left in the recording. Interactions between the sounds and the surrounding space are also investigated – and the music creates a sense of place where one is absent and not physically existing – until the music begins to mould one. The music occupies the physical space and creates an entirely new space within the familiar one, folding itself over the old and the seen and overtaking it with an unseen – but audible – construction; something that can’t be physically grasped but is rendered to be real and tangible, all the same. Presence and absence, the immaterial gaining a foothold and holding more of the listener than that which can be grabbed or touched, Ma uses the sounds of real objects and intertwines them with the invisible frequencies of music, both of which are real and present but occupy different spheres. It is capable of opening eyes and ears to the universality of sound and space, and their connected nature, which is both unifying and contrasting. They cannot be split apart, separated, or divided – both in conflict and resting in perfect, harmonic flow, as old as the Big Bang and – who knows? – perhaps even outdating it.