remote_ thoughts | contemporary electronic

Alva Noto – For – Line

Posted in Reviews: Minimalist by remotethoughts on July 24, 2006

Alva Noto - For

Artist: Alva Noto

Title: For

Label: Line

Cat No.: LINE_026

Format: CD

Line’s pedigree as an experimental electronic label is long and extremely impressive. With releases from the likes of Richard Chartier, Bernhard Gunter, Steve Roden, Asmus Tietchens and many more influential artists it has grown in stature over the years.

We come to the 26th release and no introduction is necessary when dealing with an artist of the calibre of Carsten Nicolai – Raster Noton original, micro-composer extraordinaire and visual artist of some distinction.

‘For’ is a surprising release in many ways as Nicolai’s work is often based on a particular theme or concept. Here, however, the only concept is the dedication of each track to a particular musician or artist. It’s refreshing to hear an album of variety, beauty and challenge that simply exists because it can – there’s no other reason to enjoy these tracks other than they’re enjoyable!

‘Counter’ is a slightly disconcerting intro track which uses a whining, high-pitched squeal to wake the listener up before dropping into some textbook sinewave tones and bass. A perfect way to set you up for the rest of the CD.

From there the tracks become more melodic, strikingly beautiful and full of a delicacy that sits happily with the semi-ambient nature of quite a few of the pieces. The 12 minute long ‘Transit’, for example, has a classic, gentle progression with all of the hallmarks of Nicolai’s sound… yet it’s a mellow sound – almost chill out music. There are still elements of high-frequency in there, but they don’t dominate and certainly aren’t the main raison d’etre of the track.

‘Gulf Night’ is the only track that really comes across as an experimental piece but it sits quite happily amongst the other gems of shining beauty.‘Flashforward’ is simply a divine piece of music that has more in common with the likes of Taylor Deupree or Minamo than the clinical sound of Raster Noton. It weaves an absolutely magical spell over the listener with a hypnotic, shimmering chord loop punctuated by subtle tones and textures.

The album finishes with ‘Alva Noto.Z1′, a track that sounds like it could form part of the Alva Noto / Sakamoto trilogy with it’s piano phrases and bass heavy rhythm. Then you learn that elements of the track date 1999, and it becomes clear that you’re listening to a liquidly beautiful prototype of that work.

Undulating, spacious, natural sounding… this CD captures a very real sense of Carsten Nicolai’s personality and musical skill. For that reason it becomes ultimately clear that this is a work of great distinction. Another wonderful and essential release from a deeply impressive label.

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