Yasuhiro Morinaga ~ Sceneries from the Castellated Wall

The Galaverna netlabel continues to shine with its latest release, another gem that straddles the edge between genres.  This release is the work of Japanese sound artist Yasuhiro Morinaga, who presents the results of travels in Ireland and Italy, cloaks them in unexpected sheets and connects them to history.

Before knowing the background, “For ‘La Donnaccia” is an immensely appealing drone farm piece (perhaps a new genre waiting to be invented).  Sure, we’ve got birds, cows, and a milk pail, but we’ve also got the sound of a braying donkey.  Having just seen one of these things last week on a trip to Pennsylvania, I can attest that they are quite obnoxious at first, but also amusing, so non-ingratiating their cries.  The clarity of the recording is intense.  A forester downs a tree; the avian populace protests.  A soft drone nibbles on the background while the more domesticated animals claim the foreground.  In the end, it’s just the drone.  The piece becomes more surreal when one learns that it is based on a short film chronicling the lives of villagers suspended on a floating rock; now everything makes sense except the chainsaw, which seems a bit anachronistic.

The middle piece, “Parade”, has naught to do with an actual parade, being instead a route of passage along Londonderry.  As a glistening drone, it seems at first to lack the immediacy of the prior track.  For the first half, it’s all darkness, but in the middle of the piece, the birds return, as if sensing that the path is safe once again.  Then some stomping people frighten them off with trots and instructions, disrupting the natural landscape; but they in turn are scared off by some very loud buzzes and bass tones.  This comes as a welcome surprise, because at this point in the album, it’s safe to say that no one is expecting percussion.  And yet here it is: another side to the performer, gracefully applied.

By “Ear of Dionysius”, all bets are off.  This short piece, recorded in the Artificial Limestone Cave of Sicilia Island, is echoes and crunch at the start, and techno at the end.  What in the world is going on?  Apparently the artist has found a way to combine experience with impression, enabling his listeners to hear first the actual sounds, then their emotional effects.  Some whoopin’ and hollarin’ in the cave indicates that someone was having a lot of fun; hopefully Morinaga was included in the experience, because Scenes from a Castellated Wall is indeed great fun, a lot like wandering into new locations with good friends and high hopes and being rewarded with a unique adventure.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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