Posted on Nov 4th 2008 12:20 am

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Tujiko Noriko, Lawrence English & John Chantler: U

Room40 2008
08 Tracks. 38mins57secs

Room 40 captain Lawrence English, musician John Chantler, and chanteuse Tujiko Noriko tumble together and tug apart over the course of U, inexhaustibly stitching the strong physicality of melodic lines to acoustic nuance, whilst crisp, agile, insistent digital tattoos envelop them and insinuate into every interstice.

Far from the jerky, skewed cut-ups of some of Noriko’s earlier work, U develops a judicious restraint to create a space for listening.  The album, though hardly esoteric, and sometimes lacking the edge of discovery honed by a confidently individualized voice, is thus easy to get lost in. There’ s a reasonable spread of material, from spacious pieces, where layered loops become extended rhythmic units and the hidden harmonies of drones are highlighted, turning static approaches into fluent, open-ended ones, to others which feature nodding rhythms and still others that are haunted by mutant guitar outbreaks.

A certain vitality is present in this approach.  The trio steamroll their way through loose jams without meandering or gushing.  Most of the tracks are edited to run seamlessly into one another, heightening the sense of organic momentum generated by the group’s thick, murky textures, subdued grooves, and swirling keyboards.  Though it goes without the experimental edge of past works, then, it represents Noriko’s finest melange of pop songs.

Opener 12 O’Clock On The Highway is anchored with a heavy, nearly dub-like density, which keeps things rolling, as discrete events get tacked on like barnacles and Noriko’s voice begins to hypnotize.  In some of the shorter pieces, a guitar cuts through the fat sound with jabbing precision, directing the content of these works to the melodramatically lurid and grim.  The group then picks up the pieces and reassembles their musical shards into intimate forms that remain reasonably consistent with what came before, but which stretch out into other abstract sound worlds.  Compositions thus form an implicit and vague unity.  Rather than one of artifice, though, it’s largely characterized by a certain sensitivity, demonstrated in the themes and moods canvassed and the relations that characterize the players on a whole.  In this manner, U is a white feather in Noriko’s colorful cap.


Tujiko Noriko | Lawrence English | John Chantler | Room40
Buy: iTunes

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