Nonturn ~ Territory

The cover image contains paint, but it’s not a painting; it’s the scraped paint left by cars confronting a concrete post.  The surrealistic swirl extends to the music as well. Territory may contain field recordings, but it’s not a field recording album; it’s the electronic impression created by Nonturn as he scraps sonic flecks and pieces from the streets of Tokyo.

Over a period of several years, Nozom Yoneda wandered the streets of Tokyo, recording footsteps and airplanes, conversation and collisions.  He took the sounds home, lined them up, layered them, and began to discern the pulse of the city, the rhythm of the streets.  Then he began a laborious process of organization, creating a new architectural framework on which to fasten these fragments.  An early example of related work is Coldcut & Hexstatic’s “Natural Rhythm,” recorded in 1997.  Technology has advanced exponentially since then, as has the proliferation of noise.  As a result, Territory is rife with metal, signal and horn, as distant from the jungle as a cellphone from a stream.  Counter-intuitively, it’s not cold.  Yoneda’s love for his city is injected into every piece as a taming of chaos, a sloughing of rough edges.  Tracks such as “Evidence” possess the inviting warmth of a calliope.  The music doesn’t walk robotically across Shibuya Station; it dances, pauses, pirouettes.  In “Compassion,” the apparent sounds of a jackhammer are muted to levels so low they become as unthreatening as a prayer wheel.

The music blurs the boundary between organic and inorganic.  Does “Undefined” start with rain on a heavy awning, or studio manipulation?  The title implies that the confusion is intentional.  If we are no longer able to tell if a sound is natural or unnatural, have we become too immersed in industry?  When we gravitate more to the sounds of the streets than to those of the wild, does our acclimation contain a survival value?  Or has something been lost?  While Yoneda may not be asking these questions, they remain inherent in his work.  He finds music in the sounds of his daily encounters, and produces an inorganic set with an organic sheen, a sonic representation of a potted plant in the window of a city apartment.  Tokyo may be dominated by glass and steel and electronic devices, but these are not necessarily a threat; in the hands of Nonturn, they become a territory.  (Richard Allen)

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