hokuro‘s latest single-track EP may possess the mother of all impossible-to-remember titles, but at least there’s no confusion regarding its genre. One glimpse at those vowels and accents and we know: this is experimental music, through and through. The trio is comprised of professional collaborator and international traveler Michael Northam, Brussels-based Japanese performance artist Sachiyo Honda and Belgian sound artist Sabri Meddeb. Already we’re looking at a clash of cultures and languages, spoken and musical. A more conventional experiment might involve the blending of influences to form a unified whole, but this release fights with itself – pleasantly, we might add – in an effort to celebrate diversity in the midst of chaos.
Attempts to locate melody in the 24-minute track are fully thwarted. Whenever even the thought of melody is introduced, it is quickly scattered. A flute passage is echoed, a keyboard pattern is deserted, shaken instruments are picked up, then discarded. The sound of a Newton’s cradle is introduced, then abandoned as the musician – no telling which one – moves on to another interesting toy. When strings arise in the third minute, one begins to think, “ah, now the orchestra is warming up”, but then the bows are laid down, the chairs moved aside. rôh mén rir néhââyâh “une âme sans fin” is in love with sound possibility, rather than sound probability; as Meddeb puts the pieces together, he finds moments of sublime collision in the midst of juxtaposition. The purposeful layering of disjointed elements is not a typical compositional mode, but it lends the project a fractured and ephemeral quality. What are these noises – the thwacks of the tenth minute, the patters of the eleventh? If true randomness were allowed to play itself out, would the overall timbre remain as smooth? In the end, the piece makes us think about how music is put together, and the components that make a song work. Few people would include wailing and light accordion in their mixes, but then again, few people are pioneers. This release proves that new frontiers are still waiting to be discovered. (Richard Allen)