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|**| (Gate) – No Exit

|**| - No Exit

CD, Fluttery Records, 2009

“No Exit” is the first release by Tokyo-based Lajos Ishibashi-Brons’ noise/jazz improv project “|**|” (pronounced “Gate”).
Post-production on this album consisted only of fading in and out at the beginning and end of some of the pieces, otherwise they are presented exactly as they were recorded live in studio. This lends an intimate and somehow tactile quality to the recording, with a hint of low-finess. Ishibashi-Brons suggests that his album is a reaction to the seemingly inescapable culture of socially required fake happiness and the discomforture this causes – fittingly, the album conveys a sense of melancholy and unease.
The seemingly obscure track titles indicate which instruments where used in each piece. The sousen (ss) – an electric four string instrument built by Lajos, a converted radio (rd), and the electric morin khuur (mk) – an adapted Mongolian string instrument played with a bow – are the custom instruments. An electric guitar (gt), a 7-string bass (bs), a delay, a pitch-shifter and six other effects pedals were also used.
The album is a very diverse one. Lajos starts it off with dirty drones and a primitive melody scratching itself out in “28 ss.rd”. He brings in strings on “38 ss.mk” with what I guess is the morin khuur being bowed, the piece later develops into a delightful grating loop which keeps time with an ominous drum beat. “13 ss.rd.gt” is a complete surprise as it bursts onto your speakers with vigorous pounding rhythmic noise. This is followed by “44x ss.rd.bs”, an introspective piece dominated by echoing plucked strings. Again on a completely different vibe “29 ss.rd.gt” is a noise ambient piece with claustrophobic engine room sounds and haunting drones.
Although the range this album spans is refreshing, it also feels a little all over the place and less like an album than a collection of studio jams. Nevertheless this is an interesting first album and shows promise for future releases.


— Rudolf Vavruch

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