It’s been a long layoff for Impulsive Habitat, but earlier this month the label returned with a half-dozen releases, the most timely being Togari summerscapes. The second word is invented ~ my MacBook keeps insisting that I want to write summer’s capes ~ but for once, the error is poetic. These sounds, recorded last summer in Togari, Japan, wrap around the listener like sonic capes, a light one for the day and a heavy one for the night. Each is a woven product, a concise summerscape representing a longer period of time.
Darren McClure has an ear for beauty. He selects small segments of sound, allowing them to filter in and out of the foreground as if they are naturally approaching and receding. In “Togari by day”, one encounters the gently flowing water presented on the cover and thinks, ah, peace. One might sit beside this quiet location for hours and listen to the subtle nuances of the day: frogs, stones, birds, all telling their story. In so doing, one might forget the frenetic pace of 21st century humanity and tap into something more ancient and enduring. The most beautiful sounds arrive in the tenth minute, as the water seems to flow over something like a bamboo xylophone ~ although this is more likely a variation of depth and weight. The ambient segment that closes the piece is an aural mirror, a reaction to an undefinable grace.
And then night falls ~ time for crickets and other creatures to emerge from the woods. The sound is immediately darker, murky in texture, a shadow awaiting its form. One is less certain of its benign nature, although such assignments are typically impressionistic and as such difficult to trust. Water at night is no different from water at day. Grass does not turn evil when night falls. McClure’s familiarity with the area likely means that his comfort level is equal, if not greater ~ but only when the crickets emerge and the church bells toll does the listener regain the sense of peace that permeated the day. And then, crowds and fireworks ~ a surprise on first listen, but a welcome joy on subsequent plays. In the end, one gains an appreciation for the contrasts present in a single location, while recalling their spiritual and communal power. (Richard Allen)
Available here (Streaming and free download)