Hatis Noit may seem like a new artist, but she’s not; Illogical Dance is giving her a global boost. The artist first became known as a member of Mutyumu, and her solo debut Universal Quiet made a splash in Japan in 2014. While the EP’s initial release in 2015 should have made her a public name, it remained an eastern secret. Add a new cover and a striking video, and the results should be completely different.
While Hatis Noit explores the outer possibilities of the human voice, she concentrates on magical and lovely tones, avoiding the ugly or off-putting. She whispers, but never screams; soars, but never wails. If our ears could open in wonder, they would. Her sonic precision is extended to the stereo mix; her use of channels is exquisite, creating an illusion of surround sound.
The artist is often described as “enigmatic,” thanks to a visual identity that experiments with gender expectations and a sound that borrows from ballet, theatre and world music. Segments of “Illogical Lullaby” find antecedent in Dead Can Dance’s “The Host of Seraphim.” The name Hatis Noit refers to the stem of the lotus, and as “The Lotus Eaters” was Dead Can Dance’s last recording before their first split, it’s easy to make the comparison. Katie Gately is another relative, due in this instance not to the voice but to the approach of looping and layering. Yet while the artist is not afraid to emulate, she follows her own path, folding in so many influences that she creates her own distinctive recipe.
While the lyrics are not in English ~ they in fact seem like a made-up language of onomatopoeic chant ~ the opening syllables of the album are phonetically similar to “crystalline,” which just happens to be the name of a track by Björk, another artist to whom the artist is compared. And while her voice can be as low as that of a Tibetan throat singer or as high as that of an operatic diva, “crystalline” is a perfect description. Is it any coincidence that Björk collaborators Matmos remixed “Illogical Lullaby” for this release? The duo’s participation nudges this sound from experimental to electronic. Astoundingly, the center of the original version sounds like an electronic production, awash in stutters, trills and spliced tones; but it’s all voice. The biggest compliment to Hatis Noit is that she didn’t need to be remixed; the biggest compliment to Matmos is that their version is a worthy addition to the artist’s oeuvre. (Note: as I typed “oeuvre,” my computer kept changing it to “Louvre” ~ and why not?) After a crash of thunder, director Yoshiko Akita shows the artist singing in color. Our perception has been altered. (Richard Allen)