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Repress of the second full-length by 'Ryoji Ikeda on Touch (originally released 2001), following the highly acclaimed +/- (1996). Recorded and mixed at eCl studio in Tokyo, this release features two works in Ikeda's continually expanding electronic style. O C is an exploration at the edge of one's perSeption - an extension of +/- and the next step. C adds a velocity axis and a densivraxis to factors, 0 amalgamated numbers, structures, frequencies and sounds. Touch. 2005.
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C1, C2, and C3 are separate tracks, but they work together as one whole, partly because they're short in duration, and because they blend seamlessly together. Ikeda sets the tone for much of the disc from the outset, which is characterized by dense blasts of noise and blink-and-you'll-miss-it dynamics. C4 uses the first acoustic instrument, a violin frenetically cut up within an inch of its life. Though it's only a second long, the theme of acoustic instruments tampered with by electronics is one that's revisited later, and in greater depth. C5 is a head-spinning sonic breakdown of fractured drum-n-bass a la Aphex Twin or Kid 606. This is Ikeda's first attempt on 0°C at using a medium not related to IDM ("intelligent dance music"), and instead employs the more musically-accepted drum-n-bass genre to carry out his left-field and schizophrenic vision. C6 abruptly stops the tumbling with a minimal glitch piece that builds until its contents spill over to C7, another stark track rooted in minimalism and saturated with paranoia. The hollow blowing sound that appears in the middle offers no respite from the ominous atmosphere, perhaps adding to the tension even more. Appropriately, the next two tracks, C8 and C9, seem to be the album's climax. Electronic clicks, cuts, and static are traded for string instruments, and they heighten the senses because they are inherently musical. Furthermore, the idea that classical music can be turned into a dizzying sonic stew likely makes people aware of the possibilities of music to come, and of the questions, "What makes good music?" "Is this Ikeda's or the original composer's composition?" and "Conceptual genius or bastardization of tradition?" 0° comes to a close with C0 (appropriately named "Coda") which gives the listener a breather and "closes the book" on the exhausting trip taken. A faint chime echoes periodically like a signal from another universe or a possessed television set. Pads in the background enhance the mood and color the atmosphere. It could even be said that C0 provides the only moment of real beauty in the entire suite.
"C" is, in all of its variety, a set of songs first and foremost. Using the rubric "C + number," each track becomes a sub-heading under a very large one. Ikeda has created a catalog of radically different sonic textures that nonetheless maintains its coherence and solid holistic structure. When I listen to 0°, I listen all the way through. To start in the middle, or stop before the coda sets in, would be for me the equivalent of walking into the movie theater late or putting down a book before I've finished it.