Yama Yuki ~ Tufan / Music for Ride Hailing Services

Here are two completely different albums from the same composer: field recordings captured during a typhoon and an ambient playlist for Uber, Lyft and related agencies.  Combine the two, and we suspect that the worst possible scenario for Yama Yuki would be to be trapped in a ride sharing car with a crappy soundtrack during a typhoon.  Let’s hope that never happens!

Tufan (Typhoon) is by nature an exciting set, as the artist seizes the opportunity to record these intense sounds.  The 24-minute recording was captured in a 24-hour period and culled for dramatic effect.  The wind howls, the rain pours, but not in a linear or expected fashion; the unpredictability of the event provides its sonic appeal.  At times the artist seems free to roam outside, although we suspect not for long.  In the second half of the track, Yama Yuki shelters microphones in improvised paper tubes to capture the sound of the wind, in one case “detuning the sound by 2 octaves” to obtain a more drone-like sound.

Strangely, the two recordings have something in common.  Tufan is meant as a meditation on “the vulnerability of human existence,” and offers sounds that are appealing, yet imply danger.  Music for Ride Hailing Services addresses a form of sonic warfare – imposed sound – something that is unappealing, yet in this case not dangerous.  The first suggests physical vulnerability, the second emotional or spiritual vulnerability.  The ambience of Music for Ride Hailing Services was composed as an alternative to the loud, crass music to which riders are often subjected – while paying for the pleasure!

Like Eno, Yama Yuki imagines a new soundtrack to public transportation: something pleasant and unobtrusive, calming and even healing.  The artist suggests that with the right music, a passenger might even want to linger in the Uber a bit longer.  The flip side, of course, is that a ride is both a financial transaction and a social construct, and some drivers might find that ambient music is an unwanted intrusion, especially if it lulls them into a stupor when they are expected to be alert. An amusing angle is that the recording is released on tape, making it unlikely in this day and age that one might pass such a thing to the driver and say, “Play this ~ it was recorded for you!”

Like Tufan, “3.471” is a tale of two halves.  The first is a slowly expanding, light drone, its tone reminiscent of a classic title by The Orb, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld.”  In the second half, chiming tones take center stage, reminiscent of meditation balls in a temple.  Then harmonium takes over and glides the piece to a gentle end.  On Side B, tendrils of sound gather and glow, culminating in a hub of transit sounds.  The last minutes are like the short period between reaching one’s town and one’s destination; one is already secure, anxiety drifting away.

Each recording provides a haven from threatening sound: one by taming it, the other by offering a substitution.  Each leaves serenity in its wake.  (Richard Allen)

Tufan (Impulsive Habitat – free streaming and download)

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