Caught somewhere between environmental sound studies and surrealist sonic architecture, SUGAI KEN helps mark the 30th release of Field Records with an ambitious new album. Commissioned by the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo, Tone River is the product of a year’s intensive work between artist and label, created in part to examine the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands with regard to water management.
While its doors to the Western world were closed during the 17th and 18th centuries, Japan kept abreast of Western science via a Dutch trade post in the bay of Nagasaki. When the country changed from a feudal society to a modern democracy through the turn of the 19th century, Dutch engineers lent their expertise to large-scale water management projects. One of the most prestigious projects of the time was the Tone River, which stretches 322 kilometers across Honshu, Japan’s largest island.
For this project, SUGAI KEN travelled to three points across the Tone River and used regular, binaural and underwater microphones to record environmental sounds, seeking to express the change in landscape of the river in its flow into the Pacific Ocean. On Tone River, these varied recordings are interspersed and juxtaposed with Ken’s distinctive take on synthesis, where raw and precisely sculpted textures and tones interact in stark, neutral space.
On this conceptually rigorous, yet beguiling and free-flowing record, SUGAI KEN glides between the elemental and hyper-synthetic in a flexible exploration of sound and story.
This album smashes traditional motifs and harsh digital into a totally new sound. Much of the syncopation of a Kraftwerk click track but with the ambiance of a tea garden in the eye of an approaching tsunami. Clever and interesting. Alex Hall
'commissioned by Misawa Home Corporation for use in their prefabricated houses', says the press release.Turns out to be one of the rereleases of the year. Absolutely amazing ambient music. Robert Bloemkolk
Keszler gingerly pulls you into a gorgeous, unsettling, totally immersive soundworld across Stadium's 12 tracks. His frenetic and awe-inspiring percussive chatter builds a beautiful, meditative haze that confounds and delights. monokhrome