Google “Osaka, Japan” and one will find references to finance, technology, food, architecture and night life. But one will not find nature sounds at the top of the list. In this album-length soundscape, Masayuki Imanishi exposes a different side of his beloved city, venturing into local parks on a hot summer day. By contrasting the sounds of Japan’s financial capital with those of its local wildlife, the artist creates an avid contrast that mirrors the dilemma of the city dweller, so close to nature and yet so far away.
The growl of transit and commerce forms a civilized sheen that coalesces into a drone. From this starting point, Imanishi seeks a spiritual respite. Too much technology can be oppressive, creating a working class that is busy as ants but with less to show for it. Fortunately, a different pair of drones soon appears. First come cicadas, then what sounds like a waterfall: the second is more successful as white noise, drowning out the artificial intrusions of humanity. Imanishi has found his holy place.
The sound of a boat dock replaces the whine of motorcycles. The artist writes of cherry trees and lotus blossoms, sights difficult to translate to sound. In the 13th minute, the local birds take over, one akin to a whippoorwill, but an octave lower. Children are briefly heard in the background, their joy apparent. Who wants to be around all that concrete on such a day? The amazement is that Imanishi is able to find multiple locations in which the sounds of industry fail to dominate, and in some cases cannot be heard. One can imagine, if only for the length of one’s visit, that one has entered a forest retreat, sitting at the banks of a pristine, unpolluted river. The insects of the title are ever-present, but pleasant: more crickets than bees, little to alarm or alight.
The depth of the sonic field and the variety of creatures on the guest list imply a hidden city of pocket universes, known to residents but unadvertised to tourists. Come and taste our food, the brochures beckon. Tour our financial district. Visit our nightclubs. But the remnants of Osaka’s natural beauty linger in its parks. For most of time, this is all there was. Now, though walled off, such areas still manage to run wild, displaying incredible biodiversity and adaptability. After we have gone, such areas will reclaim their prominence. insects are implies that this future may be preferable to the path we are currently pursuing. (Richard Allen)