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neumu
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 
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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive



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artist
Susumu Yokota
recording
Symbol
Lo Recordings
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Album artwork often serves as a symbol, pointing to and participating in the reality of the work at hand. And, indeed, the recent effort from Susumu Yokota, a sculptor who channels gushing ambient currents into steady, controlled canals of soothing calm, is adorned with artwork of just such a character: its pure white backdrop harbors a Polaroid of a painting, itself likely a duplicate, of two Victorian youths with creamy complexions, cranberry red lips, and long ropes of hair, decorated with yellow flower petals. As though itself an offspring of such artwork, Symbol harbors samples — duplicates, if you would — from the likes of Debussy, Mahler, Ravel, and Beethoven, then sprays them with layers of jitterbugging beats and iridescent textures, and rearranges each into vivacious tempos and sprightly moods.

The album is formal, yet fun, with a limber, baroque air bristling about its every movement. Perhaps at no better a place is this evident than in the opener, "Long Long Silk Bridge," when beats splash and pop like rainbow-colored soap bubbles and the voluptuous voice of Meredith Monk soars through Mahler's majestic symphony arrangement like a bird hovering atop the treetops of a thick forest. Similarly, on the ensuing "Purple Rose Minuet," jubilant, lilting strings are treated with a steely, somewhat dissonant clamor of percussion, trickling beads of piano, and the exultant chants of an Arabic singer. The Eastern influence in the percussion and melodies affords the album a distinctive rooting, especially on "Traveler in the Wonderland," with its snake-charmer melody, but Yokota diverges from this route soon thereafter.

All too often, in fact, compositions are befuddled by New Age bravado. Pieces such as "Song of the Sleeping Forest," "Flaming Love of Destiny," and "Symbol of Life, Love, and Aesthetics" are mired by saccharine string arrangements, and made all the more odious for their exaggerated vocal ruminations. In many moments Yokota is also guilty of leaning on his samples, spewing two or three into the soup of a single song, and brewing something of a sweet, altogether distasteful aroma. More often than not, when these samples are left unaided, which is quite often indeed, the work seems antiquarian and, as a result, out of place in today’s milieu. Like its artwork, Symbol is rife with charming sights rarely seen anymore, but sights to be returned to only every now and again, perhaps when one perfunctory moment too many casts a spell of nostalgia for an age never experienced.


by Max Schaefer




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