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by Lukas Simonis & Takayuki Kawabata
Z6 Records, 2007
Distributed by Korm Plastics and Staaplaat
CD or MP3, Z6 089313, Euros, $12.97 US
Distributor’s website: http://cdbaby.com/cd/simoniskawabata.

Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher
Saginaw Valley State University


This is a project of songs played by the cellist Kumi Otte Kondo, written and produced by Lukas Simonis, using lyrics from Japanese poet Takayuki Kawabata sung by Miki Sugiura. The entire effect is unnerving, evoking the distancing of urban life, result of too many humans brushing up against each other, as in the subways displayed on the CD sleeve.

"Shosoku" features an angular grinding of cello, and bright snippets of Miki Sugiura’s voice, like something processed and served in a can. On "Original NEWS" her voice goes from childish wonder to gruffness, over guitar arpeggios and chunky chords. "Remixx" suffers cello stabs and long notes.

"Iyashi", written for Kondo’s final exams at the Rotterdam Conservatory in 2004, was the first song in this project. A cello saws, while Miki Sugiura’s voice is layered atop it. "Manhole Theme" includes percussion, multi-tracked banging on cello, dense audio processing, then a cooing and trilling female voice.

This is the soundtrack of mildly depressed people, detached and disaffected, their depth dismissed and kept at arms length to meet the incessant demands of contemporary city life and office work. Both music and words remind us of the affectless prose of novelist Banana Yoshimoto, or the dribbling, horny artwork of "Mr."; for the parents of the mute, misshapen baby monster or monster baby figures sculpted and painted by Izumi Kato. As Kawabata writes in "News Remikkusu", "I have nothing to say because tomorrow will be rain...I am taken away by city ghosts."



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