After a blur of releases from 2007-2010, Ryo Nakata all but dropped off the radar. Troposphere is his confident comeback. This Japanese drone artist, computer and guitar in tow, has produced a flowing series of robe-like tones that oscillate, retreat and return. While brass and organ do not appear, their timbres are present: an aural illusion akin to the blending of elements in a Long Island Iced Tea (plenty of ingredients, none of them tea). When listening to the album’s finest track, “Troposphere One”, one can also imagine a string quartet. This tonal experimentation is a hallmark of Ryonkt‘s work; on the surface, each track is one long note, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Strange shapes are moving beneath: a chord beneath a chord, a note beneath a note.
Neither harsh nor placid, the album retains a near universal volume. If any criticism is to be made, it is that the set suffers from a lack of dynamic contrast; the tracks are mastered clearly and loudly, but tend to launch and recede within a matter of seconds. No sudden moves are made as the sounds travel within their respective geographies. If some of these elements were brought to the fore – if, for example, a track were allowed to build from silence or shed its clothes for a spell, each layer could be appreciated all the more. Yet those who prefer the sustained to the segmented are likely to bask in Troposphere‘s regal appeal. (Richard Allen)