MINAMO + LAWRENCE ENGLISH: A Path Less Travelled (Room40)


Posted on Nov 4th 2010 01:18 am

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Minamo + Lawrence English: A Path Less Travelled

A Path Less Travelled
Room40 2010

05 Tracks. 42mins02secs

Amazon UK: CD US: CD Boomkat: CD

The latest release to come out of the Room40 workshop is a collaboration between multi media artist and head of label Lawrence English and Japanese experimental quartet Minamo, which uses the latter’s extremely minimal template, built from electronic textures and processed and live guitars, as a platform to expand from, with Lawrence English adding electronic processing and field recordings as well as contributing bass and harmonium. In just over forty minutes of delicate grainy soundscapes, split into five tracks, Minamo and English create a very evocative soundtrack, set somewhere in between their respective sonic realms.

The album was recorded over a couple of years in both Brisbane and Tokyo, but there is nothing in its course that hints at such a time frame. The natural ethereal textures, melodies and composite soundscapes show a great level of consistency throughout and convincingly serve the overall narrative of the record. The pace is particularly slow, dictated by the quartet’s typical improvised ambiences, which stem from a variety of forms here, with guitarists Keiichi Sugimoto and Yuichiro Iwashita serving melodies and loops which are then processed by Namiko Sasamoto (Keyboard) and Tetsuro Yasunaga (electronics and objects). Lawrence’s contributions are often at granular level, bringing in layers of field recordings and additional processing to accentuate the relief of the compositions. Album opener The Path is a deeply reflective piece, filled with sparse gossamer guitar textures, harmonium drones and fragments of melody, which all become more potent in the second half. Things remain pretty understated on the following two pieces, but Headlights is backed by echoes of nature which underline beautifully the delicate recurring acoustic guitar theme and give it an idyllic rustic appearance. Background crackles and statics, combined with darker overtones, give Glimmer a much grainer and more rugous appearance, while the surprisingly straightforward Fireworks, which closes the proceedings, combines guitar brushes, piano and dense sound forms.

Before this though, the epic seventeen and a half minute Springhead explores the space occupied by the five sound artists through a series of progressive tableaux, from field recordings-based sequences to drones and much more musical moments. The transition between each section is almost imperceptible as components enter and exit the spectrum totally unnoticed, but, at their most present, they in turn redefine and recontextualise the piece. With so much space to fill and no restrictions on how to do so, Minamo and English are at their most evocative, lyrical and cinematic here.

Over the years, Lawrence has collaborated with a number of musicians from around the globe, always keen to go beyond his own musical universe, and this latest joint effort doesn’t disappoint. But, as his imprint, Room40, is celebrating ten years at the forefront of contemporary explorative music, he is typically found looking ahead rather than reflecting on the past. This work with Minamo is utterly rich, challenging and exquisite, and proves a stunning addition to his catalogue.

Room40 are hosting two nights at Cafe Oto as part of the London branch of this year’s OpenFrame with performances by Chris Abrahams, Scanner, David Toop, I/03 and Andrea Belfi tonight (Thursday 4 November) and Grouper, Lawrence English and Rafael Anton Irisarri tomorrow (Friday 5 November). For info and tickets, click here.


Lawrence English | Room40
Amazon UK: CD US: CD Boomkat: CD

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One Response to “MINAMO + LAWRENCE ENGLISH: A Path Less Travelled (Room40)”

  1. THE 2010 REVIEW | themilkfactoryon 19 Dec 2010 at 8:50 pm

    […] + LAWRENCE ENGLISH A Path Less Travelled […]